Sunday, January 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Key at-bat by Brad Miller helps Rays rally past Twins (w/video)

MINNEAPOLIS — There was so much that went into Sunday's much-needed and hard-earned 7-5 Rays victory over the Twins.

Red-hot 3B Evan Longoria hit tying and go-ahead homers. Equally sizzling 1B Logan Morrison also went deep twice. C Hank Conger caught a popup as he tumbled into the dugout. Steven Souza Jr. started the ninth-inning rally with a double and some good hustle to get to third.

But the biggest moment?

That might have been a couple of batters later in the ninth when, after walks by Curt Casali and just-called-up Nick Franklin loaded the bases with one out, SS Brad Miller tomahawked a 1-and-2 pitch to left for a sac fly/liner that put his team back ahead.

As much as the Rays have struggled with runners in scoring position, and as much as the need has increased to play a more team-oriented offensive game given a growing disabled list that now includes Brandon Guyer, Miller executed just as he needed to.

"That was very impressive," manager Kevin Cash said. "It's exactly what we talked about with (two strikes), to move the ball. To get on top of a very difficult pitch, 95 at his neck, to get on top of that for a sac fly was just an outstanding at-bat."

Not that the power show by Longoria and Morrison wasn't impressive, marking the fourth time in franchise history they had two players with multi-homer games. Longoria hit five homers in the series, Morrison four. The 11 homers the Rays hit total in the four games were a team record for a series.

The ninth-inning rally was needed because LHP Xavier Cedeno gave up the lead Longoria had just given him by allowing a leadoff homer to Eduardo Nunez in the eighth. That just made the win, their third straight after five consecutive losses to improve to 25-30, even better.

GUY TIME: Guyer had worked his whole career for the chance to play every day and was doing quite well. But what felt like a little grab in his left hamstring last week got worse, and now Guyer won't be playing for at least two weeks.

Not wanting to risk a more severe injury, the Rays placed Guyer on the 15-day disabled list before the game with a left hamstring strain.

"It eventually got to the point where I literally felt like if (I did) one more sprint or something it was going to completely blow, and I had to say something," he said.

NICK OF TIME: Though Franklin didn't get much of a look in spring training and was passed over for previous callups, he remained focused on doing well at Triple-A Durham and, after going 14-for-40 over his past 10 games, was rewarded with a promotion.

"I've been swinging it pretty well, and I figured I would be one of the options to be called up pretty soon," he said.

It seemed odd to replace an outfielder with an infielder, especially when they had options, albeit not on the 40-man roster, in Jaff Decker and Dayron Varona, but Cash planned to make use of Taylor Motter's versatility to compensate.

Then, of course, after emptying his bench, Cash was forced to put Franklin in leftfield for the ninth, his first such appearance since a two-game stint in 2014 with Seattle. "I was fine," he said.

MISCELLANY: Hitting coach Derek Shelton was ejected from the dugout in the second inning by home-plate umpire Will Little because he "disagreed" with a strike three call on Souza. … INF Steve Pearce had three hits as the DH but isn't sure if his previously sore right elbow will allow him to play 2B tonight under NL rules in Arizona. … RHP Alex Colome, working a third straight day, earned his 15th save. … RHP Chris Archer said he is not looking forward to hitting tonight. He is 1-for-13 thus far. … 2B Logan Forsythe (left shoulder fracture) will progress to batting practice and a full onfield workout today and Tuesday at the Trop, with the possibility of starting a rehab assignment by the end of the week.

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