Kiermaier leads Rays to huge comeback

by Gary Shelton on August 7, 2019 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Kevin Kiermaier scores winning run in the 10th. /CHUCK MULLER

Wednesday, 3 a.m.

This is the image that you will remember of Kevin Kiermaier, exultant.

Kevin Kiermaier is all smiles after scoring./CHUCK MULLER

His hands are raised over his head in triumph. The front of his uniform is covered in infield dirt. Gatorade -- teammates finally got him after several moments -- is dripping from his body.

There is a smile on his face, a gleam in his eye. His teammates surround him. Fans lean over the rail and cheer his name.

Most importantly, the winning scoreboard is behind him.

Not bad for a .246 hitter, huh?

Matt Duffy congratulates KK after walk-off./CHUCK MULLER

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Kiermaier helped the Rays steal one Tuesday night. He was pure effort and unchecked speed as he circled the bases. He had three hits, including two doubles, and scored on a wild pitch in the Rays' 7-6 comeback victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

It was an example of what speed can do for a baseball team. He

Aguilar almost ran over C Travis d'Arnaud chasing a foul ball. /CHUCK MULLER

took second base on his doubles even though he really had no right. He scored on the wild pitch, it seemed, before the ball hit the backstop.

“Give KK a lot of credit," Rays' manager Kevin Cash said. "When he hits the ball and it gets through, I think he has second base on his mind immediately and that’s why he’s able to get there. It’s so easy to assume he does not and his speed certainly helps that. Anytime an outfielder is not centered up to a ball, he can put a lot of pressure on the defense.”

It was the third walk-off win for the Rays this season. In their

Willy Adames rounds third after his HR./CHUCK MULLER

last eight games, the Rays have come from six runs down against Toronto twice to win.

“I saw it go right through his legs and I like my chances right there," Kiermaier said of the wild pitch. "The only crazy thing that could have happened is if it would have kicked back really hard, but when it was hugging the ground the whole time, you never see it kick off that padding back there. I had a feeling there wasn’t going to be a play and that was a good feeling because who knows how much longer that game could have went. I have a lot of trust in Austin Meadows – that would have been a 3-2 pitch with two

Rays' Kittredge assumes the opener role on Tuesday night. / CHUCK MULLER

outs, but Boshers made some big pitches to get Tommy and Travis out there, so I was happy to see that go through the old five hole and score right there. So, yeah, I was very happy.”

It was odd that the Rays won on something as innocuous as a wild pitch. After falling behind 6-0, they got back in the game by  slugging. In the bottom of the fourth, the Rays had three two-run homers -- Avi Garcia, Willie Adames and Austin Meadows -- to tie the game.

Castillo won his second game of the year. /CHUCK MULLER

“I was trying to put the ball in play there," Adames said. "I wasn’t trying to hit a home run. I wanted to get on base and get in a good position with men in scoring position. I was just happy I hit it out and made the game closer. Happy that (Austin) Meadows tied the game and we battled back and got the win.”

Neither team scored until Kiermaier after that. The Blue Jays had runners on second and third in the ninth before Emilio Pagan struck out Bo Bichette and Cavin Biggio to get out of trouble. Diego Castillo finished the game for the Rays to pick up his second win of the year.

“The entire team played a factor in this game," Pagan said. "I

told Kitt (Andrew Kittredge), ‘that’s some of the best stuff.’ I’ve played with Kitt now for a few years and that’s the best stuff I’ve seen him have. Tough luck giving up that homer there, but he was really, really dominant on the mound. Yarbrough did his thing, he battled through some tough plays on defense early on, but kept us in the game right where we needed to give our offense a chance. It’s funny, I said it a few weeks ago that we were going to be scoring some runs and everybody was going to be like, ‘where was this?’ That’s just baseball. You kind of expect to see it happen with the talent in the lineup. It’s been fun to watch. A huge team win.”

The Rays have scored 6 runs (or more), hit multiple homers and recorded double-digit hits in eight of their last 9 games.

The Rays try to win their series today at 1:10 p.m. against the Blue Jays. Brendan McKay will pitch against former Tampa Bay pitcher Wilmer Font at Tropicana Field.


Anderson has been impressive for the Rays./CHUCK MULLER



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