Kiermaier’s late triple gives the Rays a comeback

by Gary Shelton on July 27, 2020

in general

Kiermaier finally has another walkoff./JEFFREY S. KING

Monday, 4 a.m.

I would have bunted him.

You would have bunted him.

Put it on the ballot and most of America would have bunted Kevin Kiermaier in the bottom of the 10th inning of Sunday's game against Toronto.

And why not? Kiermaier hadn't had a hit all season (in 11 at-bats), and the Rays had runners on first and second with no one out. A certain logic suggests that you move both runners into scoring position and take your chances.

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But the Rays, as you might have heard, have their own logic going in baseball these days.

And after Kiermaier hit a two-run triple to right field to give the team a 6-5 comeback win over the Blue Jays, who is going to argue?

"There are probably 29 other managers who would have had me bunt," said Kiermaier, who delivered his first walk-off hit since Spet. 29, 2015 (on an infield hit against Baltimore and Zack Britton). "But my at-bats weren't as bad as the box scores would lead you to believe."

It was the first extra-inning win for the Rays under the new rules, which say a team starts its extra inning frame with a runner on second base. The Blue Jays scored on a sacrifice fly after Joey Wendle missed the tag on Santiago Espinal in the top of the 10th to take a 5-4 lead.

It was reminiscent of a year ago, when the Rays won several games with comebacks. Since last Aug. 5, the Rays have won nine of their last 51 games with a walk-off.

"New year, same mentality," Kiermaier said. "The best teams in baseball do that year in and year out. That's why we play 27 outs (or more)."

For most of the afternoon, it looked like another frustrating day at the plate for the Rays, who were one for their first 10 with runners in scoring position.

But after falling behind 4-0, the Rays scratched their way back into it. Two of those runs came with two out in the ninth, the tying run coming when Brandon Lowe dove to reach first on a single.

The Rays are home against the Atlanta Braves tonight at 6:40 p.m. at Tropicana Field. Tyler Glasnow starts for the Rays against Mike Foltynewicz.

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