ST. PETERSBURG - What exactly was Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier doing making the first out of the eighth inning at third base Tuesday?
Especially with Rays, after chasing Clayton Kershaw in what become a three-run seventh, having the Dodgers within reach at 6-3?
In short, trying too hard to make something happen.
Kiermaier led off as a pinch-hitter and laced a ball to left-center, then decided to stretch it into a triple, only to be nailed by centerfielder Alex Verdugo.
"I hit the ball in the gap and I saw it kick away from him,'' Kiermaier said. "I had a full head of steam. It was one of those things, I know my run doesn’t necessarily matter. You’d like to trust the guys behind you.
"At the time, I thought the ball was cut off by an infielder. I wasn’t happy. After the game, I go look at the replay and Verdugo made a heck of a play. It was amazing.
"Any time you go to third, I always judge everything. ... I know I had a baserunning blunder going back to the Arizona game. I never want to make outs on the bases. I take a lot of pride. But at the same time, you’re down three right there. To get a run across the board would be good.''
Rays manager Kevin Cash said in most cases Kiermaier might have had a triple, but he still can't take the risk of making an out when he likely could score from second anyway.
"There shouldn't be a play,'' he said.
Verdugo said he takes a lot of pride in his defense and welcomed the chance to show it.
“He hit the ball hard in the gap. I felt I had a good jump to it and off this turf, the ball skipped on me a little bit more and it got past,'' Verdugo said. "I know he’s pretty fast so I just tried to get the ball quick. I saw that he was being aggressive and taking third. I really just tried giving myself the best chance of getting him out.”
As frustrated as Kiermaier was, he said he would take the same risk again.
"If i had a chance to do it again, I’d probably go,'' he said. "It’s a risky move, and we paid for it. You’re not trying to kill any type of rally there. Tip my cap. I’m trying to put the pressure on the defense and he made me pay.''
Contact Marc Topkin at email@example.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.