After six games in six days on a compacted West Coast road trip, the Tampa Bay Rays are back to where they have excelled all season — at home in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Now the club would like to see record-setting slugger Brandon Lowe continue his productive ways.
Leading the wild-card chase and on the heels of the first-place Baltimore Orioles in the American League East, the Rays will open a six-game homestand Tuesday with the first of three matchups against the Colorado Rockies after a rare two days off.
The defending AL East champions have gone 12-7 overall since July 30 and 40-22 at home this season. They will try to cut into the Orioles’ lead with their three-game series against the National League-worst Rockies, followed by a set with the division rival New York Yankees.
The 29-year-old Lowe is one of eight Rays players with at least 16 home runs on a club that is fourth in the majors with 183 long balls.
With his most recent home run Wednesday at San Francisco, the lefty-hitting Lowe reached a historic milestone. He bashed career homer No. 100, taking the Giants’ Ross Stripling 421 feet to center field for a two-run shot in a 6-1 victory.
That made Lowe the fastest primary second baseman in major league history to reach the century mark, doing it in 477 games, 32 fewer than former Florida Marlins and Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla.
“It’s awesome. To understand kind of where I started and everything else like that, it’s a pretty cool accomplishment,” said Lowe, in his sixth season. “No matter who you are in the big leagues, 100 home runs is pretty special.”
In his 11th career appearance and first-ever start against Colorado, Rays right-hander Zack Littell (2-4, 3.99 ERA) will look to add to his success against the NL West club. He has a 2.89 ERA and two saves in 10 appearances against the club.
Despite going 1-2 in three August starts, Littell owns a 2.55 ERA with 11 strikeouts and one walk in 17 2/3 innings during the month, leading to a sharp 0.793 WHIP.
The Rockies are hoping their arrival in Florida bears the same results as last month, when they took two of three in Miami against the wild-card-pursuing Marlins. Offense could be key.
In winning two of three against the visiting Chicago White Sox over the weekend, the Rockies outscored their opponent 30-16. They banged out 35 hits and five homers, including a pair by leadoff hitter Charlie Blackmon.
Similarly, the Rays posted a season-high 18 runs and 20 hits in Saturday’s 18-4 win in Game 2 of their doubleheader against the Los Angeles Angels before leaving California ahead of Tropical Storm Hilary. Sunday’s game was moved to Saturday in order to avoid the storm.
Colorado had a setback Sunday when it placed right-handed pitcher Tyler Kinley (right elbow inflammation) on the 15-day injured list. Kinley missed over a year following elbow surgery and returned Aug. 1.
“The back of his elbow swelled up, nothing on the surgical site or inner part of the elbow or forearm,” Colorado manager Bud Black said. “We thought it was in the best interest of Tyler, and the team, to just take a step back. We’re hoping it’s just the 15 days.”
Left-hander Ty Blach (1-1, 4.14) will make his sixth start and 13th overall appearance of the season Tuesday. He is 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA in two career starts against the Rays.
—Field Level Media
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