ST. PETERSBURG – To get a sense of how shorthanded the Rays were by the final innings of Saturday night's game, all you had to do was look at the field and see Carlos Gomez playing second base.
It was that kind of night for the Rays, who lost another game, 3-2 to the Marlins, and apparently another player to injury, as shortstop Adeiny
Hechavarria left in the seventh inning with left oblique soreness.
Hechavarria's injury forced Rays prospect Justin Williams, just called up from Triple-A Durham, to make a challenging debut, pinch-hitting against
Marlins lefty Adam Conley, and in a key situation, two on and one out.
Williams, 22, who made it to the Trop and into the dugout around the third inning, didn't deliver a moment to remember, grounding into a double play.
With CF Kevin Kiermaier (foot) and 3B Matt Duffy (back) sidelined, and only backup Adam Moore on the bench, the Rays put Williams in rightfield and moved Gomez to second. It wasn't totally wacky, as he played there once in 2015, an inning for the Brewers, and does take ground balls often.
The Marlins grabbed the lead in the fourth with a quick start against Ryan Yarbrough. Justin Bour drew a leadoff walk, Starlin Castro singled and Martin Prado doubled for one run. A one-out grounder by Miguel Rojas scored the other.
The Rays halved the lead when Joey Wendle opened the home fourth with a homer to center, which was the Rays first hit off Miami starter Pablo Lopez.
The Marlins extended the lead to 3-1 in the seventh when Cameron Maybin homered off Hunter Wood, the third of five Rays pitchers in a game started by opener Ryne Stanek. The Rays cut it back to 3-2 on a ninth-inning homer by Ji-Man Choi that struck high off the batter's eye in centerfield.
Williams, 22, is probably the Rays most advanced outfield prospect, but wasn't necessarily ready for a callup from Triple-A Durham, having hit .267 with eight homers, 45 RBIs and a .715 OPS.
But with Kiermaier sidelined for a couple days (but not on the DL), and with neither INF Willy Adames nor Christian Arroyo eligible to be called up by not having at Triple-A Durham 10 days, Williams was the choice since he was already on the 40-man roster. Just getting him to the Trop was challenging enough since Durham was playing in Buffalo. "He's an exciting young player,'' Cash said. … LHP Hoby Milner was optioned to Durham to make room for Williams.