CLEVELAND — The Rays already felt like they won the day in acquiring veteran slugger Nelson Cruz from the Twins in a trade that was completed shortly before first pitch.
And they went out and delivered a dramatic victory Thursday night over the Indians, 5-4 in 10 innings.
First, after being down 3-0 early, they rallied to tie by scoring two in the ninth — the second after they had two outs and no one on, with Yandy Diaz and Brandon Lowe providing the clutch hits. They got a sort-of diving catch of an infield popup by reliever Pete Fairbanks to get through the bottom of the ninth.
Then they won it in the 10th.
Austin Meadows, who delivered the walkoff winner Wednesday at the Trop against the Orioles, came through again, singling in Randy Arozarena, who started the inning as the runner on second. Diego Castillo closed it out for the save, stranding the tying run at third by striking out the last two batters.
“Just a really big game overall game by a lot of people,’' manager Kevin Cash said. “The guys are pumped. Really, really just a team effort.’'
The Rays improved to 58-39, sitting a game off the American League East lead, in posting their 30th come-from-behind win, matching the first-place Red Sox for most in the majors.
“It just speaks volumes about the team; there’s no quit,’' Lowe said. “It’s incredible, honestly. … It’s just kind of how it feels in the dugout and when we are playing. Franmil (Reyes) hits a three run homer and it’s, ‘Oh, well now we got to go score four.’ There’s no panic in that dugout.’’
The Rays were down 3-0, then 4-1 behind Luis Patino, the 21-year-old called up to start, with the idea of giving him a shot to establish himself as a member of the rotation. He worked into the fifth, allowing the four runs, with five hits, three walks and four strikeouts.
The big mistake was the three-run homer he gave up to Reyes with two outs in the third after Cash ordered switch-hitter Jose Ramirez intentionally walked.
“I thought he was outstanding,’' Cash said of Patino. “Personally, I felt bad that I put just a lot of pressure on him right there. But the stuff was excellent.
“(Pitching coach Kyle Snyder) said that’s the best warm-up bullpen he’s seen out of him. That doesn’t mean a ton, but it’s certainly encouraging that he goes out and backs it up. But he just did a really, really good job for us and kept us right in the ballgame when a lot of young pitchers could have faltered right there. And he didn’t. I give him a lot of credit. Extremely encouraged with his outing.’'
The Rays got runs in the fourth and seventh after triples by Diaz and Francisco Mejia, and they went to the ninth down 4-2.
Diaz, the former Indian who had four hits and was a double shy of the cycle, led off with a homer against James Karinchak. With two outs, pinch-hitter Ji-Man Choi drew a four-pitch walk, then Lowe laced a ball off the centerfield wall to score pinch-runner Brett Phillips.
The Rays took the lead in the 10th when Meadows came up with one out and, despite an 0-2 count against reliever Bryan Shaw, delivered another winner.
“The clutch factor is really coming out and shining through from Meadows right now,’' Lowe said. “It’s nothing short of impressive. He gets into these extremely high-pressure situations and it seems like he just thrives in it. And it’s really fun to watch.’'
For the Rays, Thursday was a lot of fun.
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