1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Rays

‘Best win of the season:’ How a sixth-inning rally might fix the Rays homestand

Tampa Bay lost three straight games going into Friday’s matchup against the Angels, but a late-inning rebound can flip the switch.
Willy Adames (1) and Austin Meadows (17) high five after Meadows scored on a single by Yandy Diaz (2) during the sixth inning Friday against the Angels. (MONICA HERNDON | Times)
Willy Adames (1) and Austin Meadows (17) high five after Meadows scored on a single by Yandy Diaz (2) during the sixth inning Friday against the Angels. (MONICA HERNDON | Times)
Published Jun. 15

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays offense was sluggish against Andrew Heaney and the Angels on Friday, and the southpaw shut out Tampa Bay through his first five innings of work. Austin Meadows, hitless in his previous 14 at-bats, stepped up to the plate to lead off the sixth inning.

The outfielder ripped a double down the rightfield line to break his hitless streak and revive the Tampa Bay offense. A parade of Rays followed Meadows around the base paths as Yandy Diaz, Ji-Man Choi, Kevin Kiermaier, Guillermo Heredia, Avisaíl García and Tommy Pham reached base.

The five-run sixth inning for Tampa Bay turned Friday night on its head. A team that collected only one hit through five innings suddenly had the lead for good. After the 9-4 victory, the Rays breathed a sigh of relief.

“Half of this game and then the last three, we’ve been out-pitched, out-hit and I think that everyone else would agree with me saying that,” Kiermaier said. “For us to have those huge two innings was our best two innings of the year.”

The centerfielder took things a step farther, saying that Friday’s outcome has a big impact on the clubhouse.

“It’s the best win of the season, easily,” Kiermaier said.

The Rays have struggled to convert hits into runs on the current homestand. On Thursday, the Rays turned 10 hits into only three runs. Wednesday produced similar results as 12 hits resulted in two Tampa Bay runs.

All the hits came at once for the Rays on Friday night. Outfielder Tommy Pham singled home the go-ahead run for Tampa Bay.

“It was huge,” Pham said of the five-run sixth inning. “This might be our best win of the year.”

The best win of the year, a win that put the brakes on a three-game losing streak, rolls right into a Charlie Morton start this afternoon.

In 14 starts, Morton owns a 2.10 ERA while collecting an undefeated 8-0 record. He surrendered only two hits across seven innings of work in his last outing. The 35-year-old pitcher leads the Rays with 2.7 Wins Above Replacement, per Baseball Reference.

Before the game Friday, Morton said that he has been cognizant of getting ahead of batters.

“I’m trying to be more aggressive early in counts, and whether that’s with a fastball or a curveball, it’s working ahead.”

Meadows, who started the turnaround with his sixth-inning double, said that the momentum from Friday night can carry right into the Saturday matinee.

“That’s probably one of the better games of the year we’ve had, being able to get those rallies and build some momentum into the next day,” Meadows said. “We can’t wait. Morton is nasty.”


  1. Japan's Yoshitomo Tsutsugo watches the flight of his solo home-run off Israel's pitcher Dylan Axelrod during the sixth inning of their second round game at the World Baseball Classic at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Wednesday, March 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi) [SHIZUO KAMBAYASHI  |  AP]
    It’s a two-year, approximately $12M deal for lefty who has power and patience at plate, can play outfield, corner infield, DH.
  2. She has the jersey, she may soon have St. Pete's permission, now all Mayor Jane Castor needs is a plan to woo the Rays to play in a full-time stadium in downtown Tampa. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
    John Romano | The Rays may be allowed to talk to Tampa again before the end of the Tropicana Field lease. It’s up to Mayor Jane Castor to convince them a full-time stadium can work in Hillsborough.
  3. Avisail Garcia, shown after homering in the AL wild-card game, is a candidate to rejoin the Rays. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
    Winter meetings journal: Several days of talks have team officials confident they will be making additions soon.
  4. General manager Erik Neander talks with reporters during a briefing at the Winter Meetings in San Diego, California on December 11, 2019. [WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Tampa Bay Rays]
    Winter meetings journal: The way Rays see it, life in the AL East is always going to be tough even with a $324 million pitcher.
  5. Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks during the Major League Baseball winter meetings Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, in San Diego. [GREGORY BULL  |  AP]
    MLB commissioner said it’s better for all to find a way to improve team revenues.
  6. A basket of Rawlings baseballs sits on a practice field as Pittsburgh Pirates catchers take batting practice during a baseball spring training workout in Bradenton. [AP file photo, 2015]
    The committee says it found no evidence MLB intentionally altered the baseballs.
  7. Tampa Bay Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg, right, with U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, during a Rays playoff game against the Houston Astros in October. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
    Also, a peek into their thought process on why standing pat is bad, as was Pat Burrell, and other things they’ve learned.
  8. Tampa Bay Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg talks with reporters during a briefing at the Winter Meetings in San Diego, California on December 10, 2019. [WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Tampa Bay Rays]
    Principal owner says staying full time in Tampa Bay remains unlikely, so the focus remains on sharing games with Montreal.
  9. Agent Scott Boras faced a lot of questions from reporters at the winter meetings on Tuesday. [MARC  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Game’s top agent says Rays have been unappreciated in their market. Also, they should think of adding a veteran starter.
  10. Tampa Bay Rays Tommy Pham (29) works to clean out his locker area for end of season on Oct. 11. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Whatever concerns the Padres had about Pham’s elbow apparently were resolved as the deal goes through as planned.