Inside the Rays game-winning play

The Rays had reason to celebrate. [BRONTE WITTPENN | Times]
The Rays had reason to celebrate. [BRONTE WITTPENN | Times]
Published Jul. 24, 2018|Updated Jul. 24, 2018

The play that won Monday's game for the Rays started with a mistake.

2B Daniel Robertson, shifted to the third-base side of the bag, should have fielded Gary Sanchez's grounder and thrown across the diamond himself to get the final out and keep Aaron Judge from scoring the tying run.

"In hindsight, should I just have thrown to first, yes,"  Robertson said. "But with the shift, it was just kind of an unordinary spot to be in."

Instead, Robertson tossed the ball to rookie shortstop Willy Adames as he was running toward second, but not in time for get Aaron Hicks, who got a good break off first. But as umpire Mike Muchlinski singled safe, Adames had the presence of mind to turn and fire to first himself, still in time to get anything-but-hustling Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez.

"It was just a weird play," Adames said. "(Robertson) made a nice stop. I was just running to the base just in case. And then he flipped the ball to me and I was kind of shocked. I head the umpire call 'safe' real loud. I looked to first and (Sanchez) was halfway there, so I just threw the ball.

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"In that situation, you've got to keep your head up. If I had my head down in that situation, he would have been safe. But I was ready to throw. If I wasn't thinking, I don't throw the ball probably and he's safe."

First baseman Jake Bauers was caught a bit off-guard, but managed to complete the play.

"I wasn't exactly ready for it," Bauers said. "I didn't realize we still had a chance but for Willy to come up and fire it like that it, it didn't take him very long to make that decision."

Manager Kevin Cash said the Rays actually practice that play — "believe it or not" — of making the second throw, but not in that exact situation, and certainly not with the game on the line, and praised Adames' instincts and ability.

Sanchez obviously played a key role with his lack of hustle, which he copped to in admitting, "I should have run harder."

But Robertson said Adames deserves "a lot" of credit: "He knew what to do, to finish the play."

So did Bauers.

"Extremely heads up play," Bauers said. "That's how you win games right there with plays like that. And he's a guy who's going to make plays like that."