ST. PETERSBURG -- Carlos Gomez told his 9-year-old son, Yandel, he'd hit a homer for him on Sunday. Well, dad came through.Gomez's two-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth gave the Rays an 8-6 win over the Twins at Tropicana Field.Yandel "had a really good game yesterday playing
ST. PETERSBURG -- Carlos Gomez told his 9-year-old son, Yandel, he'd hit a homer for him on Sunday. Well, dad came through.
Gomez's two-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth gave the Rays an 8-6 win over the Twins at Tropicana Field.
Yandel "had a really good game yesterday playing soccer," Gomez said. "And they won the game because of the goal he scored. I told him today, 'It's my turn, I'm going to try and hit a homer for you.' And I did, and I know he's going to be really happy."
Count the Rays in on that happiness. Gomez's blast helped them earn a sweep of their weekend series and they have now won four games in a row and five of their last six.
C.J. Cron singled to lead off the ninth to bring Gomez to the plate. Based on Gomez's recent track record, he appeared to be a better walk-back-to-the-dugout candidate than walk-off hero when he stepped to the plate.
Gomez had gone 0-for-4 with three strikeouts to that point of the game. One of the strikeouts frustrated him enough to prompt him to snap his bat in half over his knee. But the veteran stayed in the game mentally. So when Cron led off the inning, Gomez thought of possible scenarios. If Cron doubled, Gomez planned to bunt him to third. After Cron singled and Rob Refsnyder was inserted as a pinch-runner, Gomez looked to the dugout. Rays manager Kevin Cash told him to hit away. And he did.
Gomez swung at the first pitch he saw, a 90.7-mph fastball from Addison Reed, and he deposited the ball a projected 402 feet away, per Statcast™, into the left-field stands for his first career walk-off homer.
"Gomez had an interesting series, but he finished it on a really good note," said Cash of Gomez, who entered the game in the midst of a 2-for-34 slump. "Good for him. Veteran player, young player. Any time you do something like that it's pretty special."
Cron hit a two-run homer in the first, his fifth homer of the season and his third in the last two games, and Adeiny Hechavarria's three-run homer in the sixth off Alan Busenitz powered a four-run inning that put the Rays up 6-3, but the Rays' bullpen couldn't hold the lead.
Miguel Sano singled off Chaz Roe in the seventh to drive home a run, and James Dozier added a two-run single off Sergio Romo in the eighth to tie the game at 6.
Alex Colome stopped the bullpen bleeding by striking out the side in the ninth to set up Gomez's feel-good moment in the bottom half of the inning.
"I know that I've been struggling at the plate," Gomez said. "But I always kept my confidence and belief in my ability to have a good at-bat. … A lot of strikeouts right now. But one at-bat can get you going."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Hechavarria's prowess in the field is extraordinary. Sunday he extended his club-record errorless streak to 70 games. So his three-run homer off Busenitz felt like found money, putting the Rays up 6-3. Gomez's homer ended the game, but Hechavarria's put the Rays in position to win in the bottom of the ninth.
While Gomez's home run was the first walk-off homer of his career, it was also the first walk-off plate appearance and hit of his career, coming in his 1,329th game, 4,808th plate appearance and 4,359th at-bat.
HE SAID IT
"We got off to a rough start, and nobody really hung their heads. They were frustrated. It seems like we're kind of righting the ship here. And you can only build off wins like this. And series wins. And then today with a last-minute home run to win a ballgame. That adds even more." -- Cash, on the Rays
Doing their part for Major League Baseball's Earth Day celebration on Sunday, the Rays increased the number of recycle bins located at Tropicana Field.
Major League Baseball was the first professional sports league to have all of its teams as members of the Green Sports Alliance, which promotes healthy, sustainable communities in sports. In fact, MLB clubs diverted more than 20,000 tons of recycled or composted waste during the 2017 season.
The Rays will be off on Monday before embarking on a nine-game, three-stop road trip to Baltimore, Boston and Detroit. Jake Faria will start the opening game of the Baltimore series. He is 1-0 with a 4.09 ERA in four appearances in his career against the Orioles. Tuesday's game begins at 7:05 p.m. ET. Alex Cobb will start for the Orioles.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com.