Rays aim to pull off one last trick vs. Rockies: series sweep

Field Level Media
We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Aug 23, 2023; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Pete Fairbanks (29) celebrates after ending the tenth inning with a strikeout against the Colorado Rockies at Tropicana Field.
Aug 23, 2023; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Pete Fairbanks (29) celebrates after ending the tenth inning with a strikeout against the Colorado Rockies at Tropicana Field.
Image: Dave Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Late-inning magic and manic momentum have been on display by the bay in St. Petersburg, Fla., in the first two games between the Colorado Rockies and host Tampa Bay Rays.

The home side would like to keep it that way when it goes for the series sweep over the National League West cellar dweller on Thursday afternoon.


For the second consecutive night, the Rays rallied past the Rockies on Wednesday. They erased a two-run deficit in the ninth inning on Yandy Diaz's two-RBI single, then won it in the 10th on Brandon Lowe's second walk-off hit of the year.

Lowe, who went 1-for-5, lashed a liner to right that scored Osleivis Basabe with the game-winning run from second base.


"I was just trying to put together an at-bat," said Lowe, whose first walk-off hit was a ninth-inning homer to beat the Chicago White Sox 8-7 on April 21. "I wasn't trying to hit a homer or do anything except get Curtis (Mead) to the plate and move the ball over (and) put together a productive at-bat."

The Rays have scored at least six runs in six straight outings — showing signs of the dynamic offense that buoyed them to a 13-0 start.

"Good team win," manager Kevin Cash said of his club, which is 4-3 in extra innings and tops the American League with a 42-22 home record.

"(The loss) is tough for the group. ... These are growth moments," Colorado manager Bud Black said of his side.


Tampa Bay is a majors-best 18-7 against left-handed pitching and 24-19 in interleague play.

The Rays did not announce a Thursday starter, but multiple reports stated right-hander Shawn Armstrong (0-0, 1.00 ERA) would serve as the opener of a bullpen game. He has made four starts among his 24 appearances this season and seven in his 227 career outings.


Three of his four starts in 2023 consisted of two scoreless innings. In the other start, Armstrong went a season-high three innings and didn't yield a run against the Philadelphia Phillies on July 6. He pitched one shutout inning in the series opener on Tuesday.

Colorado's Peter Lambert will make the start in Florida before the club stays in the AL East and heads to Baltimore for a series beginning Friday.


The right-handed Lambert (3-4, 5.02) will be seeking to follow up his last start, an outstanding seven-inning stint in a 14-1 win over the White Sox.

In that one, the 26-year-old turned in one of his better performances since returning to the rotation on July 1 and did it in front of his older brother Jimmy, who was in the Chicago bullpen.


He matched his career high with seven innings pitched, allowing just one run — a homer by Elvis Andrus on the game's first offering — and four hits.

Like his brother Jimmy, Lambert had Tommy John surgery — Jimmy in 2019, one week after his brother's debut, Peter in 2020. The battle to get back has been trying.


"It felt great because it's been a while," Lambert said. "It's been very (gratifying). I've been through a couple of tough years and at the beginning of this year we had a plan, and that included limiting my innings. But it's been great."

Black said Lambert's overall confidence is key.

"This is important for Peter and it's important for us to see (what he can do)," said Black. "Peter's mission is to get back to a place where he's confident in his health and he's confident in his ability to perform in the big leagues."


Since returning to a starting role, he sports a 2-3 record and a 3.34 ERA over seven starts. He allowed just eight hits and only one unearned run over 14 innings in July.

—Field Level Media