KK’s walk-off sparks improbable win

by Gary Shelton on April 24, 2022

in general

Kiermaier's dramatic homer led Rays' win./JEFFREY S. KING

Sunday, 4 a.m.

This, then, is the stuff of dreams. These, then, are the night visions that fuel a child's imagination.

And now, Kevin Kiermaier was leading it.

He circled the bases like a sprinter, like he was afraid that after all of this time, something would awaken him. He tossed his helmet, just past first base, and he stretched he arms out wide and began to dream. He approached home plate like walking into a party.

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Yeah, this was the way he had imagined it, all right.

Kiermaier delivered on a lifelong dream Saturday night, slamming a walk-off home run to lead the Rays to an improbable 3-2 victory over Boston. Kiermaier, who was hitting .125 as he stepped to the plate, took a 3-1 pitch from Hansel Robles over the fence for his first home run of the season.

"I had a dream," Kiermaier said."I wanted to hit a walk-off homer. I’ve never done it at any level — backyard baseball, minor leagues, big leagues --- and today's the day. I’m so ecstatic. I'm so thrilled. I’ll never forget this moment, this day.

"I've dreamed. What am i going to do? I remember taking my helmet off and jumping. I felt like a 12-year-old celebrating with all my boys. Anytime my teammates want to embrace me and give me hugs, I’ll take that."

Kiermaier allowed the Rays to salvage a game they appeared to have let slip away. For nine innings, the Rays' bullpen had combined for a nine-inning no-hit shutout. But the Rays couldn't score either -- they had only two hits before extra innings , and when Bobby Dalbec tripled in the 10th (with a ghost runner on), it looked grim for the Rays.

But with two strikes and two outs, Taylor Walls reached on an error by Trevor Story and stole second. Kiermaier then did his heroics.

"I knew I just needed a hit, but when it got to be a 3-1 count, I wanted to do some damage. I hoped I got a fastball where I wanted and I did.  I put a good swing on it. I needed that."

"This shows you the m.o. of our team," KIermaier said. "Don’t ever count this team out. I joke around and call us the cardiac cats. When times get crazy, that’s when we’re at our best."

Rays' manager Kevin Cash enjoyed the show.

“KK has  been here a long time," Cash said. "He’s done a lot of clutch, clutch things for us. Today was another one. We needed another one. We were all just cringing for the work our pitchers had done."

The Rays and Red Sox play again today at 1:10 p.m. at Tropicana Field. Shane McClanahan will start for Tampa Bay against former Ray Rich Hill.


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