Kevin Kiermaier leads way as Rays beat Orioles 6-3

Rays need seven pitchers to do the job, but they get it done and win a third straight.
DIRK SHADD   |   Times
Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) celebrates in the dugout after he hit a three run homer in the sixth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, on Monday, July 1, 2019.
DIRK SHADD | Times Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) celebrates in the dugout after he hit a three run homer in the sixth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, on Monday, July 1, 2019.
Published July 2, 2019|Updated July 2, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG — There was plenty of excitement in the stands at Tropicana Field on Monday as an announced crowd of 20,441, roughly half talking advantage of a $2 ticket special, brought some noise on what otherwise would have been a quiet night.

Then the Rays had to do their part to not disappoint, rallying for a 6-3 win that was their third straight, improving to 49-36.

Kevin Kiermaier had the big hit, a three-run go-ahead homer in the sixth, as the Rays used seven pitchers to cover the nine innings.

After scoring only two in a four-hit, one-walk first against debuting rookie Tom Eshelman, the Rays let the lead get away in a messy top of the sixth, needing a diving stop by second baseman Brandon Lowe to keep the O’s lead at 3-2. But they rallied right back, and went up 5-3.

“That had the looks of potentially being a pretty frustrating game,’’ Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “That one inning where they came back, it was really encouraging to see our guys bounce right back. First two guys get on (Ji-Man Choi walk, Avisail Garcia single) and then KK does his thing. …

“It seems like when a team gets back in it, ties it, takes the lead, it's been a challenge for us to answer right back.’’

Kiermaier was happy to help, delivering his 10th homer of the season.

“I was kind of unhappy to have the lead taken away from us,’’ he said. “It felt good to put us up two there. I was just a man on a mission, whatever you want to call it. It felt really good. We needed to win tonight.’’

Ryne Stanek worked the first two innings as the opener, then was followed by Ryan Yarbrough, who was pitching on short rest and wasn’t effective, lasting only three innings. “Probably not as sharp in strike-throwing,’’ Cash said. “He was kind of fighting himself a little bit.’’

Adam Kolarek, who allowed the go-ahead RBI single, ended up with the win, their fourth in their last five games as they moved to 6 1/2 games behind the Yankees, who come to the Trop for a four-game series starting Thursday.

Castillo’s return after break

Reliever Diego Castillo, on the injured list with shoulder inflammation, is slated to rejoin the team for the first game after the All-Star break, July 11 in Baltimore, Cash said. He may throw in one rehab game before than. … Catcher Anthony Bemboom (left knee) moved his rehab to Triple-A Durham but isn’t eligible to return until July 15.

Number of the day


$2 tickets the Rays says they sold to three Orioles games this week; they are also offering $2 peanuts and fountain drinks.

Starry eyed

Cash summoned pitch Charlie Morton to the manager’s office Sunday morning so he and top team execs Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom could give him the news that he’d been named an All-Star, along with outfielder Austin Meadows. Morton played along, but turned out he already knew. “I saw (Meadows) walking out (of the office) with his envelope (of All-Star information) and I was like, “Congrats, pal.’ And he looked at me and he’s like (whispering), “You’re there too.’’ … He’s the one who told me,’’ Morton said. “I pretended not to hear him.’’ … Rays travel director Chris Westmoreland was working to arrange a private plane to get the players and their families to Cleveland on Sunday night. … Meadows has a bunch of relatives coming, and his hoping his brother Parker can make it. The younger Meadows plays for Detroit’s Class A West Michigan team, which conveniently has the night off.

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* Catcher Nick Ciuffo, who was designated for assignment last week to clear a 40-man roster space, was placed on unconditional release waivers. If not claimed, he will be a free agent on Wednesday.

* Ji-Man Choi with 2-for-3, and his two RBI singles marked his first career game with multiple hits with runners in scoring position.

* Sunday’s homer by Texas’ Joey Gallo that struck the D-ring catwalk and didn’t come down was the second fair ball this season and seventh in the 22-year history of Tropicana Field to defy gravity in that way.

* There was a moment of silence before the game in honor of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, who was found dead Monday in Texas.

* Outfielder Tommy Pham and infielder Joey Wendle were not in the lineup for what Cash said were just routine days off.

* Legendary Brandon High wrestling coach Russ Cozart threw out a ceremonial first pitch Monday.