ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays fell behind early Saturday, thanks to some ineffective pitching by rookie Taj Bradley against a tough Rangers lineup and a costly throwing error by Vidal Brujan, and never caught up in an 8-4 loss.
Still, there was something to feel good about afterward in the Rays’ clubhouse.
Their Josh came out ahead of the Rangers’ Nathaniel in the battle between the Lowe brothers in one of those special situations where everybody really wins.
“Absolutely,” Josh said. “Two brothers playing against each other in the major leagues — you can’t ask for much more.”
Their first-ever matchup was made even more meaningful after two potential 2022 meetings didn’t happen because Josh was sent back to the minors. Then, with the Rangers starting a left-handed pitcher on Friday, the lefty-hitting Josh was out of the Rays’ lineup.
They made the most of Saturday’s opportunity, with Josh asking and both managers agreeing to let the brothers bring out the lineup cards. It made for a good photo op and a nice moment for their parents and the 100-plus friends and relatives at Tropicana Field to see them together.
“I had never been part of a home-plate meeting before, so that was really, really cool,” Nathaniel said. “Just another part of a really cool weekend for our entire family.”
Josh, who is 2½ years younger, had the better day, going 2-for-4 and scoring a run. Nathaniel struck out three times and walked twice.
“We were both excited for this day, and here it is,” Josh said. “We just had a lot of fun out there going out and competing.”
When Josh doubled in his first at-bat, he didn’t have a chance to say anything as he ran past Nathaniel, who plays first base. But when he singled to open the fourth, they had a chance for some brief conversation — that Josh claimed was mostly about baseball — and some clowning, with Josh making a funny facial expression.
“Nothing too serious,” he said. “We were just messing around. Normal siblings stuff.”
The Rangers were up 6-0 at that point, with Bradley knocked out in the fourth after throwing 75 pitches and Jalen Beeks giving up a first-pitch homer to Corey Seager, who went 5-for-5.
The Rays rallied, as Arozarena followed with a single, sending Lowe to second, and Lowe scored on Luke Raley’s one-out double.
“It was cool to see him there (at first),” Nathaniel Lowe said. “I wish he’d have stuck around and hung out a little bit longer.”
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Francisco Mejia, improving to 4-for-9 off Texas starter Nathan Eovaldi, then hit a three-run homer to get the Rays within 6-4.
But the Rangers added two more runs off Beeks and debuting rookie lefty reliever Jose Lopez, and the Rays failed to convert after getting two on with one out in the seventh. Josh Lowe grounded out for the second out, and Friday star Isaac Paredes did the same with the bases loaded to end the threat.
Bradley’s issues stemmed from falling behind too often. “Yeah, it’s a good-hitting lineup,” he said. “I just felt like if I was able to pitch ahead in the count, I could have more success.”
Brujan gloved a grounder with the leadoff man on first in the second inning and went for the lead runner and a potential double play. But he threw wildly past shortstop Wander Franco, who couldn’t do anything about it, allowing one run to score. Seager then doubled in two more.
“Very uncharacteristic,” manager Kevin Cash said of the play. “Young pitcher on the mound, you try to make every play for him behind him, and it looked like the ball that Brujan threw away kind of snowballed a little bit.”
Things got worse from there, as the Rays saw their majors-best record drop to 47-20 and the next-in-line Rangers improve to 41-22. They lost for only the seventh time in 37 games at the Trop and will play Sunday seeking to avoid what could be just their second series loss at home this season (the first came against Houston in April).
The Rays’ best takeaway from Saturday was the experience of the Lowe brothers, from the pregame get-together at home plate to the postgame meet-and-greet with some of the 100-plus relatives and friends who joined their parents, Wendy and David, for the weekend.
The moment to be remembered was the brothers talking at first base.
“That was pretty awesome for them,” Cash said. “That’s probably going to be a picture on the Lowe household (wall) — well, all of their households.”
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