Ice and water and gum, oh my! Ramírez doused after walk-off

June 25th, 2022

ST. PETERSBURG -- With Friday night’s game on the line, Harold Ramírez said he was calm. But after he delivered a 10th-inning pinch-hit RBI single, giving the Rays a 4-3 victory against the Pirates at Tropicana Field, that’s when the excitement began.

Teammates showered him with affection -- along with assorted other things.

“They threw ice and water … and gum, too,’’ said Ramírez, who is batting .467 (7-for-15) with six RBIs as a pinch-hitter this season. “I was thinking, ‘Just stay calm.’ You do the job, then get excited after.’’

Ramírez has provided excitement all season long with a .305 batting average and 24 RBIs. Rays manager Kevin Cash said he appreciates that reliability.

“He’s always up for whatever is asked of him,’’ Cash said. “I think he appreciates the role that he’s in on when he’s getting starts, and then he appreciates that he knows that he’s a key bat for us late in ball games.’’

Ramírez’s clutch pinch-hit was the biggest difference-maker, but there were plenty of little things that led up to that decisive moment.

With one out in the 10th, , the automatic runner for extra innings, had the green light and stole third base on the first pitch to Ramírez, who then knew he could concentrate on just putting the ball in play. After taking a strike and allowing Bruján to steal, Ramírez drilled the game-winning single to left field off Yerry De Los Santos.

As extra innings began, Rays reliever Jason Adam allowed a Hoy Park single to deep shortstop that was smothered in the infield by Taylor Walls, giving the Pirates runners at first and third. From there, Adam got two strikeouts and a popout, giving the Rays an opportunity to win it.

Five Tampa Bay pitchers combined for 17 strikeouts and zero walks on the night.

“I did not know that,’’ Adam said. “That’s sick. That’s awesome. That’s what we want to do -- throw strike one, don’t give them any free bases.’’

Rays left-hander had one of his most efficient outings -- 102 pitches (73 strikes), nine strikeouts, no walks, six innings and three runs allowed. Those three runs were a trio of solo homers -- Michael Chavis and Diego Castillo in the fourth, then Park in the fifth.

“I feel like I gave us a chance to win,’’ Springs said. “You would love to have the home run balls back, but they were solo shots, and they typically don’t beat you. My last couple of times, I had too many 2-0 counts, too many walks. So I wanted to go back to filling up the zone and challenging the hitters.’’

The Rays went up, 3-0, in the second, and one of the hits was an RBI single by in his first Major League at-bat. When the Pirates tied it, Tampa Bay faced the possibility of blowing a three-run lead at home for the second consecutive game (after winning 92 straight games in that situation, dating back to 2018).

Ramírez made sure things ended on a winning note. Beginning in the sixth inning, he prepared for a potential pinch-hit opportunity. It didn’t occur until the 10th, but he left no doubt.

“There were a couple of different times that we considered putting him in there,’’ Cash said. “That's not an easy thing to do, come off the bench when the game is on the line, to be prepared to hit a ball hard through the infield.’’

But Ramírez has made that situation look routine.

“Every time they give me an opportunity, I just have to prepare and be ready,’’ he said. “The result is going to come.’’

Along with ice and water and gum, of course.