Josh Lowe could give the Tampa Bay Rays another glimpse of his promising future during the opener of a three-game series in Detroit on Friday.
The 23-year-old outfielder made his major-league debut at Boston on Wednesday. He drew a walk in his first at-bat and stole a base. He added an infield single before being removed for a pinch-hitter in the eighth.
“We were all kind of marveling at the at-bat in the first to get the walk,” manager Kevin Cash said. “You know the nerves are running high, but to have enough wherewithal and being in a good enough headspace to lay off some what appeared to be close pitches, that was pretty impressive. And then as far as the speed, we know he can move. He gets there pretty effortlessly.”
Lowe racked up 21 homers, 24 doubles and 24 stolen bases in 98 games at Triple-A Durham this season but only got the call-up when Randy Arozarena was placed on the paternity list. Arozarena and Brett Phillips, who is on the 10-day injured list with an ankle injury, are expected to return this weekend.
The team’s 20-year-old shortstop, Wander Franco, carries a 38-game on-base streak into the series. If he reaches base on Friday, he will tie the franchise record set by Johnny Damon in 2011.
“It’s awesome to be a part of. It’s fun to see the energy he brings,” catcher Mike Zunino said. “Sometimes you need that. That youthful energy is really, really contagious for us.”
Tampa Bay holds a nine-game lead over Boston in the American League East despite losing 2-1 to the Red Sox on Wednesday. The Rays have won 13 of their past 17 games.
Coming off one of his best outings this season, right-hander Michael Wacha will start Friday’s game. Wacha (3-4, 5.54 ERA) held Minnesota to two runs on three hits and struck out seven in six innings last Friday.
Wacha, who will be making his 198th career appearance, has never faced the Tigers.
Detroit salvaged the finale of a three-game series at Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Miguel Cabrera and Robbie Grossman had four hits apiece in the 5-1 victory.
Grossman supplied his 22nd homer, doubling his previous career high for a single season.
Cabrera, whose batting average was below .200 in mid-June, is now hitting .261 with 15 home runs and 66 RBIs.
“Miggy is as smart a hitter as you’re going to get,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “He goes up there and doesn’t try to do too much. He ambushes a double to right field. He takes a single. He sits breaking ball and gets a breaking ball and hits a single up the middle. It was a textbook day of being prepared to hit and then going out and executing. He’s fun to watch.”
Left-hander Matthew Boyd (3-8, 3.89 ERA) will oppose Wacha. Boyd has made two starts since coming off the 60-day IL.
He’s gone four innings in both of those starts, including his last outing on Saturday when he gave up five runs on seven hits at Cincinnati. Boyd is trying to regain his best form after being sidelined for 2 1/2 months.
“This is kind of uncharted water for me,” he said.
He’s made four career starts against the Rays, going 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA.
–Field Level Media