Another slam, comeback for fired-up Rays

Phillips' grand slam in eighth clinched Tampa Bay's Majors-high 35th come-from-behind win

August 8th, 2021

BALTIMORE -- Several Rays players jumped over the dugout railing to greet as he rounded the bases during another comeback win.

Phillips hit a pair of home runs, including a go-ahead grand slam in the eighth inning, as the Rays managed a thrilling come-from-behind 9-6 victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep. Combined with Boston's 9-8 loss to the Blue Jays, the win moved Tampa Bay (68-44) four games ahead of the Red Sox (65-49) in the American League East heading into a three-game series at Fenway Park beginning Tuesday.

• Box score

“When I was coming around third, and I saw everyone cut out of the dugout, it kind of reminded me of winter ball where everyone is super, genuinely excited,” Phillips said. “It fired me up. I’m all about that. That was more exciting than the home run itself -- to see everyone fired up for me.”

The Rays lead the Majors with 35 come-from-behind wins and won for the ninth time when trailing after seven innings.

After scoring 22 runs in the first two games against Baltimore, the Rays’ bats were mostly silent against starter Jorge López, who allowed an RBI single to and a solo homer to over six innings.

“It’s just the fight in the team, honestly,” Lowe said. “Understanding that if you don’t get the job done, somebody else will.”

Tampa Bay took advantage of the Orioles’ beleaguered bullpen. tied the game at 5-5 with a sacrifice fly in the eighth. Phillips then provided the lead with a grand slam off Dillon Tate that finished off a six-run inning, giving the Rays eighth-inning grand slams in consecutive games.

The Rays scored 16 runs in the eighth over the three-game series.

“This has been a pretty resilient group,” manager Kevin Cash said. “They can bounce back from tough series, tough games and tough starts. They continue to show that.”

Phillips has hit two grand slams in his past eight games. Sunday marked the first multihomer game of his career.

“I wish I had an explanation as to why, but a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while, and luckily this squirrel has found two in the last 11 days,” Phillips said.

The news was not all good.

Reliever fell to the ground while throwing a pitch in the sixth and was removed from the game with right shoulder discomfort. Cash said that Johnson felt something “crack” in his shoulder. He is being sent back to St. Petersburg for further evaluation.

If Johnson is out for an extended time, it will put more pressure on a Rays bullpen that is already short-handed because of injuries. Tampa Bay is without Pete Fairbanks (right shoulder inflammation), J.P. Feyereisen (right shoulder discomfort) and Nick Anderson (right elbow sprain), though Collin McHugh returned Saturday.

“We have depth, but we are concerned about every single one of our injuries,” Cash said. “They are gut-wrenching when they happen. We need some of the guys to get back from the IL. We’re trending in the right direction and fully trust that we have capable arms in Triple-A that can hold the fort down.”