Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Rays

Rays post their third walkoff win in five games

Tampa Bay beats Seattle 7-6 to avoid series sweep.
Willy Adames (1), left, celebrates his game-winning run on a wild pitch from Seattle reliever Matt Magill to give the Rays a 7-6 win at Tropicana Field on Wednesday. [DIRK SHADD | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Aug. 21
Updated Aug. 22

ST. PETERSBURG — By the time the slumping outfielder came to the plate in the ninth inning, doom seemed to have settled in quite comfortably at Tropicana Field.

It would be a terrible homestand punctuated by a horrible finale. The Rays would be taking another step backward in the wild card race, and doubt would continue to wedge its way into every conversation.

Sound about right? Not to Kevin Kiermaier.

“We’re not stopping until that last out is made,’’ he said.

MORE RAYS: Tampa Bay hopes Brendan McKay rediscovers strike zone

Two pitches later, Kiermaier was in an 0-2 count against Seattle’s Matt Magill. He took a close pitch for ball one. Then ball two. Then ball three. Then he barely fouled off a pitch.

“I knew he was going to throw me a heater because he doesn’t want to walk me,’’ Kiermaier said. “I knew I would get a fastball to hit, and I didn’t miss it.’’

Kiermaier hit a 432-foot home run to dead center to tie the game, and the Rays got a 7-6 walkoff victory a few batters later on a bases-loaded wild pitch before an announced crewod of 7,827. It was Tampa Bay’s third walkoff victory in five days, and it was the only way they could salvage a .500 homestand against a pair of downtrodden teams.

Tampa Bay Rays Kevin Kiermaier (39), right, celebrate his solo home run along with Willy Adames (1) to start the come back in the ninth inning at Tropicana Field on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019 in St. Petersburg. [DIRK SHADD | Tampa Bay Times]

“We’ve got to be resilient now,’’ manager Kevin Cash said. “If we’re going to get down, we have to find a way to get back up.’’

The Rays guaranteed they would keep pace with Oakland for the second wild card spot, and at least stay within 1 1/2 games of Cleveland for the top spot.

It shouldn’t have been this difficult. Not the homestand and not the game. The Rays arrived home on a roll with 12 wins in 15 games, but stumped against the Tigers and nearly gagged against the Mariners.

MORE RAYS: Tampa Bay comes up short against Mariners Tuesday night

Charlie Morton gave them a chance to win Wednesday with five decent innings and the bullpen did its job for three innings until closer Emilio Pagan took over in the ninth with a 5-3 lead.

Pagan immediately gave up a home run to Daniel Vogelbach, and later lost the lead on a two-run triple by former Rays outfielder Mallex Smith.

That put Kiermaier at the plate to lead off the bottom of the ninth. The Rays centerfielder had broken an 0-for-19 slump on Tuesday, and was just beginning to get his confidence back.

“I had a really, really rough week personally ever since we got to San Diego,’’ he said. “Anytime I hit the ball hard it was right at guys, and every other time was weak contact or strikeouts. I’m a much better player when I play with confidence and I lost it there for 5-6 games, and it showed.’’

Willy Adames followed the homer with a single, Mike Brosseau doubled and Ji-Man Choi was intentionally walked before Magill threw a wild pitch on a 1-2 count to Tommy Pham, scoring Adames.

“We are in contention to be in the playoffs with a little more than a month to go, and the guys want to win,’’ Morton said. “That’s what happened today. They willed it to happen.’’

Contact John Romano at jromano@tampabay.com. Follow @romano_tbtimes.


ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Most Valuable Ray? It could be All-Star Charlie Morton or All-Star Austin Meadows. MARC TOPKIN  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Also up for discussion in Rays Tales: Most pleasant among many surprises and biggest of several disappointments.
  2. Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow throws to the Los Angeles Angels during a baseball game Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ  |  AP
    Rays have will Tyler Glasnow on the mound making his third start, the Red Sox are planning a bullpen day.
  3. Pete Alonso, left, celebrates his majors-leading 50th home run with Mets teammate Jeff McNeil, a two-run shot against the Reds on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. JOHN MINCHILLO  |  AP
    The rookie out of Plant High and Florida moves within two of the all-time rookie record.
  4. The results say Rays manager Kevin Cash was one batter too late when he removed Charlie Morton from the game on Friday night against the Red Sox. But that doesn't mean the decision was wrong. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Manager Kevin Cash rolled the dice by keeping Morton on the mound in the seventh inning against the Red Sox on Friday. The decision says a lot about a manager’s faith.
  5. The Rays' Nate Lowe grounds into a fielder's choice in the seventh, but his hustle down the line avoids the double play and opens the door for the Rays to take the lead later in the inning against the Red Sox on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Nate Lowe’s hustle pays off big; one batter too long for Morton; Cash’s sense of urgency continues.
  6. Willy Adames, center without cap, is swarmed by his Rays teammates moments after his walkoff single in the 11th inning beats the Red Sox 5-4 on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, at Tropicana Field. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Rays 5, Red Sox 4 (11): Willy Adames wins it with a walkoff single after the Rays blow a 4-2 lead in the ninth.
  7. Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow, center, is removed from the game with forearm tightness in the sixth inning against the Yankees on May 10, 2019, at the Trop. ALLIE GOULDING  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The right-hander gets his third start since coming off the injured list and is looking for a longer outing.
  8. The Rays take on the Red Sox in a crucial four game series.
  9. Tampa Bay Rays' Travis d'Arnaud hits against the Los Angeles Angels during a baseball game Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ  |  AP
    Travis d’Arnaud will be behind the plate, Charlie Morton on the mound as Rays start play tied for second wild-card.
  10. Charlie Morton starts tonight for the Rays against Boston's Rick Porcello. MARK J. TERRILL  |  AP
    Rays open final homestand tonight vs. Red Sox tied with Indians for second AL wild card with nine games left.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement