NEW YORK – Even the sternest skeptics are starting to realize the Tampa Bay Rays are for real.
“There’s no reason for people to not think that. We’re capable of this, as we’ve shown,” Josh Lowe said after homering with a career-high five RBIs Thursday night in a 8-2 rout of the New York Yankees.
Drew Rasmussen (4-2) extended his scoreless streak against the Yankees to 21 innings, and Tampa Bay became the first team to open 30-9 since the 2001 Seattle Mariners. The Rays won three of four from the Yankees in a seven-day span, opening a nine-game AL East lead.
Tampa Bay has scored the most runs (239) in the big leagues and allowed the fewest (118).
“It’s really cool to see the things we’ve been able to do over the first month and a half,” Rasmussen said. “It’s nice to create a little space if we can, but by no means do I think they’ll be buried.”
In the opener of a four-game series, Lowe hit a three-run double on Ron Marinaccio’s second straight changeup to open a 4-0 lead in the sixth and added a two-run homer on Ryan Weber’s first-pitch changeup in a three-run eighth. The 435-foot drive over the Yankees bullpen in right-center was Lowe’s eighth home run this season.
Lowe has eight homers, 25 RBIs and a .314 average after entering the season 13 RBIs in 52 career big league games.
“He learned a lot from maybe not performing like he was capable of,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “It’s tough, and he lived it for a long time last year.”
Rasmussen (4-2) allowed two hits in seven scoreless innings with no walks and seven strikeouts, including Aaron Judge three times. Used as a reliever by Milwaukee, Rasmussen was turned into a starter after the Rays acquired him in May 2021 and displayed an array of fastballs, curveballs, sinkers, cutters and sweepers against the Yankees.
“Don’t have fear,” he said of the Rays’ teaching lesson. “The main thing they did is show me how many times I’ve been victimized on balls down the middle, and it’s a surprisingly low amount of times. Hitting is really, really hard, and so if you continue to attack the strike zone, you have a pretty good chance of success.”
Jake Diekman, signed this week after his release from the Chicago White Sox, pitched a hitless eighth in his Rays debut. Javy Guerra allowed a two-run single to Gleyber Torres with two outs in the ninth and finished a four-hitter.
Domingo Germán (2-3) fell behind in the fifth when first baseman Anthony Rizzo allowed Lowe’s grounder to bounce off his glove for an error and Yandy Díaz hit a two-out RBI double.
After going 1 for 20 with runners in scoring position while losing two of three at Baltimore, the Rays were 0 for 4 with RISP before Lowe’s two-out double off the base of the wall in right-center.
Germán gave up two runs – one earned – and three hits in 5 2/3 innings. The Yankees, who outscored Oakland 28-10 in a three-game sweep, failed provide any runs behind Germán for his second straight start.
Following this series, the Yankees don’t play the Rays again until July 31.
“You want to try to gain some ground on them” Judge said, “keep it close.”
Yankees: Selected the contract of RHP Ryan Weber from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and transferred RHP Jonathan Loáisiga (right elbow inflammation) to the 60-day IL.
Rays: SS Wander Franco was removed in the middle of the fifth inning with a spasm and tightness on the right side of his neck. “There’s a chance he’s playing in there tomorrow,” Cash said. … LHP Tyler Glasnow (oblique) was cleared to make his next minor league injury rehabilitation appearance Tuesday.
Yankees: Jake Bauers, whose two single were New York’s only hits in the first eight innings, appeared to reinjure his right knee making a sliding catch in left field against Lowe in the ninth. He hurt the knee crashing into the wall at Texas in his Yankees debut on April 29. … LHP Carlos Rodón, sidelined spring training by a strained left forearm, will likely resume throwing on Saturday, five days after receiving a back injection. … 3B Josh Donaldson (strained right hamstring) could resume a rehab assignment next week. He hasn’t played for the Yankees since April 5 and cut short his previous rehab after one game on April 18. … C Ben Rortvedt (left shoulder aneurysm surgery) was activated from the 10-day IL and optioned to Scranton, where he was rehabbing.
RHP Gerrit Cole (5-0), who failed to hold a six-run lead at Tampa Bay last weekend, starts Friday against RHP Trevor Kelly (0-1), an opener ahead of LHP Josh Fleming (0-0).