Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays morning after: The twisted tale of how Hechavarria scored winning run

Growing up in Cuba, Adeiny Hechavarria said he wasn't familiar with the party game Twister, where players sometimes have to contort themselves to reach for certain spots with an assigned foot or hand.

In discussing his slick hand jive moves that led to the decisive run in the Rays' 2-1 victory over the Royals Monday, he seemed to find a better parallel in being a smooth dancer, as he said many of his countrymen are.

The sixth-inning run was really a two-act performance.

First, breaking from second on a one-out single to right by Matt Duffy, how Hechavarria made the bold decision to blow through third-base coach Matt Quatraro's clear stop sign.

Second, how he manipulated his body and specifically his hands after sliding past the plate and then diving back toward it. He reached first with his right hand and then as Royals catcher Salvador Perez countered, quickly switched to his left hand and swiped the plate.

RELATED: We learned quite a few things about the Rays on Monday

To the former, Rays manager Kevin Cash said:

"Running through a stop sign, I guess he felt like being acrobatic. That was a really impressive slide. We're probably not going to benefit from those decisions too often, but it was nice that we did tonight."

And to the latter, Perez said:

"That was kind of funny. First time that's happened to me. I think the play's going to be like a bam-bam play, pretty close. … He just moved to the other side, I tried to follow him, to follow his body, he did a tremendous job changing hands … as soon as he see me (about) to tag, he changed the right to the left. And I was too late."

Hechavarria said, in essence, that he felt with how Royals RF Jorge Soler had to go after the ball that he had a good shot to be safe at home which is why he ignored Quatraro and made the daring dash. And that once he realized he'd have to go around Perez at the plate that instinct took over as tried first with the right hand and then the left.

"That was pure instinct," Hechavarria said. "I went in thinking going in to slide but he was right there kind of blocking the plate. So I went around and I was going to put one hand in and I saw he was going to put one hand there, so I flipped and put the other hand in there just in time."

He wasn't quite done with dramatics.

After an overaggressive diving attempt by rookie LF Johnny Field turned a Jon Jay liner down the line into a triple with one out in the ninth, Colome got a huge second out by striking out Ryan Goins with a nasty cutter.

Lefty-swinging Alex Gordon posed a different challenge, as the Rays, as usual. shifted Hechavarria from shortstop to shallow right field. Gordon's crisp grounder, off another Colome cutter, took an odd hop as it hit the lip of grass at the back of the infield. Hechavarria, who had gone 83 games and 8 2/3 of his 84th without an error, quickly recovered and made a rushed throw to end it.

Then  it was time for a victory dance.

"I'm very, very happy," he said.

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