ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – While July was a miserable month offensively for the Rays, hitting .216 with an OPS of .673, the bats began to heat up at the end of the month as 13 runs crossed the plate in two games.
Beginning with an 8-2 win at Houston on July 30, the Rays have scored at least five runs five times in nine games. Not that the lineup is entirely out of the woods. A 6-4 loss to St. Louis on Wednesday evening was the third time in four games they have scored four runs or less. Still, the Rays are hitting .269 with a .774 OPS through the first seven games of August and have hit 11 homers, more than one-third of their total (31) in July.
Wander Franco has been a centerpiece of the Rays’ improved offensive showing. After reaching base safely all four times he came to the plate Wednesday night, including a solo homer that traveled 448 feet for the longest round-tripper of his career, Franco is hitting .410 (16-for-39) with five homers in his last 10 games.
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The 22-year-old shortstop enters Thursday night’s game against the Redbirds with 16 homers. He also continues to produce highlight-reel defensive gems.
“Wander is really doing it on both sides of the ball,” said manager Kevin Cash. “When he is right, not to put added pressure on Wander, but the shape and feel of our team is pretty special.”
Yandy Diaz and Brandon Lowe have also been on recent tears. Though he went 0-for-5 Wednesday night, Diaz went 4-for-4 on Tuesday, his 32nd birthday, for his fourth multi-hit performance in eight games.
Lowe got into a groove at the end of July where it seemed like each time he swung the bat something good happened. It has yet to carry over into August (4-for-22), but as Rays fans have seem, a healthy Lowe can make a difference.
Making a difference is something the lineup will likely have to do during the season’s final couple of months. After all, a starting rotation that continues to be decimated by injuries, with Shane McClanahan the latest casualty, cannot be expected to carry the load.
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