Dickerson’s 3-run blast leads Rays to a victory

by Gary Shelton on August 11, 2017 · 2 comments

in general

Dickerson crosses the plate after his eighth-inning home run./CARMEN MANDATO

Dickerson crosses the plate after his eighth-inning home run./CARMEN MANDATO

Friday, 4 a.m.

Hey, didn't you used to be Corey Dickerson?

You remember Dickerson. The first half all-star. A guy who was batting as high as .346. The easy pick for the first half MVP of this team.

Yeah, that's him, all right.

Dickerson ended an endless slump Thursday night, hitting a first-pitch fastball over the centerfield fence for a three-run homer to lead the Tampa Bay Rays to a 4-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians. Dickerson has been 0-for-his-last 21 going into the at-bat, and his average had dipped to .290 on the season.

But for moment, Dickerson was back, taking a joyous jog around the bases. The Rays hadn't scored more

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Snell pitched one of his better games in a no-decision./CARMEN MANDATE

Snell pitched one of his better games in a no-decision./CARMEN MANDATE

than two runs in their previous five games, and they had fallen back in the wild-card race behind New York, Seattle and Kansas City. Thursday night's win moved the Rays a half-game behind Kansas City.

“We needed it, he needed it,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Anytime you are going through a funk like that, to have such a huge impact on the game is pretty special.”

Dickerson was due. He was late into his sixth straight game without a hit.

"People say he was over-swinging," Cash said. "But if you're going to say that off of his last 20 at-bats, you have to say it for the 350 before that. Nothing has changed."

Said Dickerson: "It was a relief. But it wasn't about me. It was about winning."

Morrison had three hits for the Rays/CARMEN MANDATO

Morrison had three hits for the Rays/CARMEN MANDATO

Oh, it wasn't just Dickerson. Logan Morrison had three hits and Evan Longoria had two, and together they drove in all four runs. It's hard for a team to win when it's big bats are silent, and those three have been struggling.

“They all played a big part,” Cash said. “There is no doubt we have to get those guys going. I know we're feeling pretty good after tonight, but the three guys you mentioned played a big part in our scoring. Any team will tell you they need their 3-4-5 hitters or their1-2-3 hitters showing impact and they did tonight.”

Still, it almost wasn't enough. In the bottom of the eighth, the Rays got Adeiny Hechavarria to third with one out. With a 2-1 count, Cash called for the suicide squeeze — with Hechavarria breaking for home at the pitch, and Smith popped it up. But it was just wide enough that third baseman Jose Ramirez couldn't come up with a diving catch (and an easy inning-ended double play).

And so Cash did it again. Figuring Smith would get a fastball, he called for another suicide squeeze. And Smith

Longoriapopped it up again. This time, first baseman Carlos Santana was unable to catch the ball (and an easy inning-ending double play).

After Jesus Sucre was hit by a pitch, Dickerson delivered his three-run homer. The Rays tried suicide; instead, they found life.

“I'm sure my bosses will tell me how stupid I am,” Cash said. “But it's okay. I've been called stupid lots of times.”

The game was also highlighted by rookie Blake Snell. Snell didn't get a decision, but he went 6 2/3 innings and gave up four hits and one earned run. The Rays' last five starting pitchers have given up one run each, and only Jake Odorizzi (who was hit by a line drive) went less than six innings.

Snell left a runner on third base when he departed, but Tommy Hunter came in and got two outs.

“Outstanding,” Cash said.

As Cash says, Snell's outings seem to get nitpicked, but this one was good.

“We had a chance to win the game simply because of Blake Snell's performance,” he said. “It was outstanding.”

Mallex Smith had two hits for the Rays./CARMEN MANDATO

Mallex Smith had two hits for the Rays./CARMEN MANDATO

Still, the man of the hour was Dickerson, who had been missing in action. Dickerson, by nature, is hard on himself, so a several game slump was tough on him. You can't be driven without such slumps driving you nuts.

“The game is hard,” Dickerson said. “It's hard for anybody, but it's about how quickly you can bounce back from it. It's been a pretty tough road trip and a pretty tough couple of weeks that the whole team, not just me, has had to battle. That's what I do. I battle every day.”

At first, it was uncertain if Indians' centerfielder Bradley Zimmer had made the catch. He didn't, which gives Dickerson a push toward getting restarted.

If Dickerson – and Morrison and Longoria – and if Snell – and Hunter and Colome, who had his 34th save, can fill it the gaps for the Rays, maybe they still have a chance.

The Rays play the Indians again tonight when Jake Faria faces Carlos Carrasco at the Trop. Game time is 7:10 p.m.

Hecavaria steals second, advances on the overthrow./CARMEN MANDATO

Hecavaria steals second, advances on the overthrow./CARMEN MANDATO

 

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller August 11, 2017 at 5:34 am

Did you tell Cash stupid is as stupid does? I mentioned before that Dickerson and Morrison have to return to form if the Rays are going anywhere in this race. Those 2 along with Longoria and Souza are the engine for the offense. Everyone else is just along for the ride.

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Gary Shelton August 11, 2017 at 10:24 am

Yeah, it’s a different team when they aren’t hitting

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