Rays wait and wait, then bounce back to beat Indians 6-2

A nearly 3-hour delay for heavy rain that never showed up wasn’t fun, but it turned out well with win No. 30.
Rays starter Charlie Morton delivers against the Indians during the first inning Saturday, May 25, 2019. [RON SCHWANE   |   Associated Press]
Rays starter Charlie Morton delivers against the Indians during the first inning Saturday, May 25, 2019. [RON SCHWANE | Associated Press]
Published May 25

CLEVELAND — The Rays got a few extra hours to stew over Friday’s frustrating loss when Saturday’s scheduled 4:10 start got pushed back to nearly 7 due to the threat of heavy rain, which never happened.

Then they went out and did something about it.

A few things, actually, in rolling to a 6-2 victory that was their 30th of the season.

“You want to have a club that can remember just enough of what took place the night before but not have it carry over,’’ manager Kevin Cash said. “You want a little drive, a little motivation.

“They seem like they come in after some of those ‘difficult’ losses, they come in here ready to go. And that’s the sign of a good team.’’

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The redemption angle played out all around the field for the Rays.

The guy who was down on himself after a four-strikeout game Friday, Brandon Lowe, doubled in the first run, then later added his team-leading 11th homer, on a changeup, to run his Rays-best RBI total to 30.

“There’s still more work to be done, but that’s a pretty good step in the right direction,’’ Lowe said. “I’ve had to kind of change my approach the last month or so. I’m getting a lot more offspeed (pitches) than I’ve ever gotten in my life, so really trying to adjust.’’

The guy stuck in something of a personal power outage, Ji-Man Choi, hit his first homer since May 10, and fourth overall, a two-run opposite-field shot in the fifth that put the Rays ahead to stay.

“I was thinking about that, but I wasn’t letting it take control of how I was hitting,’’ Choi said via translator Ha Ram (Sam) Jeong. “I was happy I got a home run today, and I think it turned around. A little relief, but nothing special.’’

The guy so mad at the end of Friday’s game that he broke a maple bat over his right leg, Tommy Pham, extended two streaks, a single ahead of Choi’s homer giving him hits in 11 straight games and a seventh-inning homer, making it six straight games with an extra-base hit.

“He’s a competitor,’’ Cash said. “When things don’t go his way, he’s going to find a way to beat you the next night or the next opportunity. And he did.’’

And the guy seeking to rebound from a rough outing last Sunday in New York, Charlie Morton, delivered a solid six innings, striking out a season-high 10 and allowing only three hits and two walks to improve to 5-0.

“I felt like I was more aggressive in the zone,’’ Morton said. “A little bit better command of my fastball and the curveball. And my arm felt good, felt like my stuff was pretty good. The last game was a little bit of a struggle all around.’’

The Rays improved to 30-19, again matching their season-high of 11 games over .500.

The bounce-back win made this weekend similar to last, when they blew a lead in the ninth on Friday in New York and came back to win on Saturday. Their Friday loss to the Indians was frustrating, as a 1-1 tie in the eighth turned into a 3-1 loss. But they came back strong Saturday.

The Rays scored first as Avisail Garcia singled and Lowe doubled him in. The Indians came right back and tied it, with a walk by ex-Ray Jake Bauers and shift-beating singles by Jose Ramirez and Leonys Martin.

A key moment in the game was in the fourth when the Rays had the bases loaded with one out against Carlos Carrasco and neither Kevin Kiermaier nor Travis d’Arnaud could put the ball in play, striking out. That left them 5-for-35 (.143) thus far with the bases loaded.

But the Rays rallied in the next inning, and with two outs. Pham singled, then Choi followed with a homer to left that put them ahead to stay.

“That was big,’’ Cash said. “We had (a couple) at-bats we didn’t capitalize on with a guy on third, less than two outs, and those can be frustrating. That’s another way of showing resiliency. It wasn’t so demoralizing that the guys got frustrated and shut it down. They kept putting pressure on their pitcher.’’

Lowe went deep to open the sixth and Pham in the seventh.

In what turned out to be a severe miscalculation sure to be blamed on the forecast, the Indians delayed the game a long time, nearly three hours, for a short period of rain, maybe 10 minutes of anything substantial.

So the teams waited around for nearly two hours in which they could’ve been playing before severe thunderstorms that never arrived, sat through one band of rain that would have caused a brief delay, then got started just before 7.

Cash said that with the complications of the lake effect and the difficulty in accurate forecasting, he was fine with the way it was handled, better than starting and having to stop early in the game and burning starters.

The Rays mostly were playing cards and the Golden Tee arcade golf game (no quarters required) in the clubhouse, though they did wonder why they were waiting.

“We hung out in here and killed time,’’ Lowe said. “A few of us went outside and checked out when it was supposed to rain, and we were like, ‘Okay, we’ll go back inside.’ ”

The series finale is scheduled for a 1:10 start Sunday. More rain is forecast.

Contact Marc Topkin at mtopkin@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.