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Kevin Kiermaier catch saves Rays' day

Rays right fielder Kevin Kiermaier makes a sliding catch on a fly to right by the Detroit Tigers' Rajai Davis in the eighth inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Times]

Rays right fielder Kevin Kiermaier makes a sliding catch on a fly to right by the Detroit Tigers' Rajai Davis in the eighth inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]

ST. PETERSBURG — After committing fielding miscues in each of the past two games, RF Kevin Kier­maier needed a play like the dive he made Thursday to help save the Rays' 1-0 win.

"He's got to keep playing that way," 3B Evan Longoria said.

Kiermaier entered the game against the Tigers in the eighth inning as a defensive replacement. With Andrew Romine on second, Rajai Davis hit a one-out fly ball to shallow rightfield. Kiermaier briefly lost the ball in the lights and made an instinctive decision to dive headfirst for it.

"Happy to see it go in my glove after what happened the other night," Kiermaier said. "It was a big relief."

The Rays also had reasons to be relieved afterward. Manager Joe Maddon went out to check on Kiermaier after the rookie felt pain shoot up his back. Kiermaier stayed in the game and said he didn't expect to be sore today.

His highlight-reel catch also showed that he has moved on from his mistakes of this week. On Tuesday night he made a similar dive for what he said was an easier catch. He missed, and the ball hit his glove, resulting in a triple that led to an 8-6 loss to the Tigers. He misplayed another ball Wednesday.

Maddon said he doesn't want to change Kiermaier's aggressive ways. He said if he had delivered a lecture about Tuesday's error, "that play (Thursday) never happens."

"I never want to put any kind of doubt in his mind when it comes to worrying about making mistakes," Maddon said.

GUYER COMES THROUGH: LF Brandon Guyer's first-inning RBI triple was the third go-ahead hit of his career. It came after he got two strikes and changed his approach to spread out at the plate. "If I don't have that approach, I'll probably roll over on that cutter," Guyer said, "but I let it get deep and took it the other way."

HISTORY LESSON: The Rays became the first team since the 1915 St. Louis Terriers (of the Federal League) to win and lose a game in which they got one hit in the same season. The loss was to Oakland on May 21. … Thursday's loss was the Tigers' first one-hit loss since records are available (1914).

MEDICAL MATTERS: C Ryan Hanigan (oblique) is scheduled to begin his rehabilitation assignment today with Class A Charlotte. He said he expected to need only about 10 at-bats before rejoining the Rays. … Maddon said he started Curt Casali at catcher because Jose Molina was a little banged up. Casali took two foul tips off his mask but stayed in the game and said he was okay afterward.

ROAD, SWEET ROAD: The Rays open a seven-game trip today at Toronto to start a stretch of 26 consecutive games against AL East teams. The Rays are 33-29 on the road, making them the only team in baseball with a winning record on the road and a losing one overall. "That makes no sense at all," Maddon said.

MISCELLANY: Tigers LHP David Price's one-hit loss in a complete game was the first in the majors since Anthony Reyes did so for the Cardinals in June 2006. … RHP Brad Boxberger and LHP Jake McGee each allowed one hit in their scoreless innings. … Rays vice president Darcy Raymond was among the 240 people who were naturalized as U.S. citizens at Tropicana Field before the game.

Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com.

Kevin Kiermaier catch saves Rays' day 08/21/14 [Last modified: Thursday, August 21, 2014 10:38pm]
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