ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Joey Wendle hit three doubles and a single, keying two big innings that sent the Tampa Bay Rays past the New York Mets 12-5 Saturday.
Yandy Diaz, who had two of Tampa Bay’s eight doubles, and Randy Arozarena each had three hits.
Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso and Jose Peraza each homered for the Mets, who have lost two in a row at Tropicana Field after a seven-game winning streak.
Wendle had an infield single that set up a run in the first and doubled to spark a five-run fourth that made it 6-4. He hit a two-run double in a six-run eighth that broke open the game.
“The law of averages,” explained Wendle, who has been slumping with the rest of the Rays. “We’ve talked about it being a long season, and these things happen . . . things will turn around at some point. We’re not going to hit .100 all season. I think it was something that was bound to happen eventually.”
Rays starter Shane McClanahan (1-0) got his first major league win. The 24-year-old lefty, who last October became the first pitcher in major league history to debut in the postseason, gave up four runs on six hits while striking out seven in 5 1/3 innings.
Peraza’s three-run homer, his first of the season, put the Mets up 3-1 in the second. Alonso made it 4-1 in the third with his sixth homer of the season and first in 16 games.
Willy Adames hit a two-run double in the fourth off Joey Lucchesi (1-3). Pinch-hitter Austin Meadows drove in the final run of the inning with a double off Sean Reid-Foley.
Lucchesi (1-3) gave up four runs in 1 2/3 innings following Drew Smith, who worked two innings in his first major league start. Smith gave up one unearned run on two hits while striking out three.
“I’ve just got to keep trusting myself,” Lucchesi said. “I know I’m really good, but I’m not showing it right now. I know there are haters out there, but whatever, I’m just going to man up and do the best I can the next time out.”
Lucchesi has a 9.19 ERA after six appearances.
“He didn’t throw his curves enough for strikes,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “He’s had a few outings where he’s been good and a few where he’s been exposed because of his two-pitch repertoire. If one of his pitches isn’t working he can get exposed. That’s what happened in that big inning.”
The Rays collected 15 hits after coming into the game with a .219 batting average.
Mets: 2B Jeff McNeil, who has reached base in 20 straight starts, was out of the lineup again after missing Wednesday’s game with cramps. Manager Luis Rojas said McNeil was not running at full strength Friday.
Rays: Activated 1B Ji-Man Choi, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee . . . To create a roster spot for Choi, the Rays traded RHP Hunter Strickland to the Los Angeles Angels for a player to be named or cash.
DIAZ PUTS THE BALL IN PLAY
Rays manager Kevin Cash singled out Diaz, who has walked 27 times while striking out 21 times on a team that leads the majors with 434 whiffs in 41 games. “It’s a strikeout game right now,” Cash said, “and when you get a guy that’s constantly putting pressure on the defense by putting the ball in play, that’s really important.”
SMITH FACES FORMER TEAM
One Met who got some satisfaction out of the game was Smith, who struck out three in two innings as an opener. The Rays traded Smith to the Mets in 2017 for Lucas Duda. “They traded me away,” Smith noted. “It rubs you the wrong way a little bit sometimes. It felt good to pitch well against them.”
RHP Marcus Stroman (3-3, 2.01) will pitch Sunday’s series finale for the Mets against Rays LHP Josh Fleming (2-3, 2.73).
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