Adames leads the Rays to a walk-off victory

by Gary Shelton on September 21, 2019 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Adames jumps for joy after delivering the walk-off hit./JEFFREY S. KING

Saturday, 4 a.m.

Tommy Pham has the stare. Charlie Morton has the arm. Austin Meadows has the wrists.

Adames delivers the winning hit./JEFFREY S. KING

And Willy Adames?

He has the heart.

Adames, who just turned 24, slammed a pitch into left field late Friday night, giving his Rays a come-from-behind 5-4 victory over Boston to stay in the AL Wild Card race. Adames had earlier driven in the tying run.

Adames' third hit of the night drove in Johnny Davis with the winning run, his second walk-off win of the season. Immediately, his usual exuberance was on display. He ran clear into left field, making his teammates chase him to celebrate the win.

“He had a good day," said manager Kevin Cash. "A really good day. He came up big

The Rays surround Willy Adames after the victory./JEFFREY S. KING

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Meadows scored to make it 4-2 in the eighth./JEFFREY S. KING

for us. I think he got irritated the first time up when he had first and third and nobody out and didn’t move the ball. Willy has come a long way this year and being able to make adjustments on the fly, he wasn’t going to allow pitches to get by. You saw him get aggressive. When you see him swinging, he can do a lot of damage and he picked us up huge multiple times tonight.”

Adames has blossomed into one of the Rays' best players, much better than he was as a rookie.

Morton pitched into the sixth and gave up two runs./JEFFREY S. KING

"He’s a different player when he has a glove in his hand," Cash said. "He’s so sure-handed, makes the routine play, makes the spectacular play. I think Willy is starting to come into his own a little bit and understanding what pitchers are trying to do to him throughout the league and he’s adjusted to that. Willy will be the first to tell you that he wants to be up in that spot and that’s what starts it — a player who wants to be there with the pressure and all that stuff. Through multiple times to come up in those clutch situations you just build more and more confidence.”

Adames, too, thinks he's better. More mature, he said.

“The guys were pretty patient at the plate, taking all those pitches," Adames said.

Pagan gave up a tying homer in the ninth./JEFFREY S. KING

"That was good for me because I was able to see what kind of pitches they had, and in that situation what they were throwing. They took great at-bats to put me in that spot. Just happy that we got the win and we keep doing it.

“We’ve got that win mentality. We’ve got to win. We’ve got to do it today. Tomorrow we’ve got another game. We’ve got to start it today. If we want to do the push for the playoff, we’ve got to be the first one to keep doing it tomorrow and the next days.”

Adames said the winning hit was "the best feeling you can imagine."

The win allowed the Rays to remain where they were in the wild-card race. Cleveland won earlier, and Oakland had a big lead late Friday night.

The Rays showed some bounce-back after Mitch Moreland hit a two-strike pitch out of the park in the seventh. Then, in the ninth, with the Rays up 4-2, Moreland homered off closer Emilio Pagan. Both times, the Rams came back.

The ball scoots through Red Sox catcher Vazquez to allow a run./JEFFREY S. KING

“I go 0-2 on him and he’s probably sitting curveball there," Morton said. "I threw a lot of pitches that were worse than that one tonight, so he stayed on it. It was off the plate, if not barely catching the plate, and he’s strong, he just drove it. It’s pretty impressive to hit a ball dead-center.”

Said Pagan: “First, honestly, I don’t think I made a mistake. That was a pretty good pitch (to Moreland). Way up out of the zone. Moreland was obviously locked in tonight. He put all four of their runs on the board. To answer your question, 100 percent we have confidence and one-through-forty. We have confidence that everybody in here can contribute. Awesome at-bats that inning leading up to Willy’s big swing. D-Rob (Daniel Robertson) had a heck of an at-bat. (Mike) Brosseau had a heck of an at-bat. It speaks to the character of the room that everybody expects to contribute and compete every night. It was a lot of fun to our last half-inning."

Kiermaier thought he had  a homer, but it was foul./JEFFREY S. KING

It was the second straight game the Rays have come from behind to win in extra innings, their eighth win with a walk-off. It was the sixth walk-off win in the last 19 home games, compared to twice in their first 57 games.

The Rays are now 9-8 in extra-inning games, but that includes a six-game winning streak. They're 21-16 in walk off games, including 20 of their last 29 games.

Oh, and if you like Adames,  you aren't alone.

"You talk about that 'it factor,'" Cash said. "He's got that. The fans love him. His teammates love him. The coaching staff loves him. He’s always smiling. He’s a two-year player but he does a lot of things the right way. Veteran leadership."

The Rays face the Red Sox again today at 6:10 p.m. at Tropicana Field. Tyler Glasnow pitches for the Rays against Travis Lakins of the Red Sox.

Mike Brosseau can't come up with a fly ball that fell for a Boston triple./JEFFREY S. KING


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