ST. PETERSBURG -- Ji-Man Choi's walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth kept alive the Rays' slim hopes that they can still earn a spot in the postseason.Choi's first career walk-off hit gave the Rays a 6-5 win over the Indians at Tropicana Field on Monday night, extending
ST. PETERSBURG -- Ji-Man Choi's walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth kept alive the Rays' slim hopes that they can still earn a spot in the postseason.
Choi's first career walk-off hit gave the Rays a 6-5 win over the Indians at Tropicana Field on Monday night, extending their home winning streak to 12 games and moving them to within 7 1/2 games of idle Oakland in the American League Wild Card race.
Choi, who hails from South Korea, phoned a friend to translate for him.
"It was my first career walk-off home run, and that was awesome," Choi said. "I was just thinking at the plate, 'Just come to me, so I can bring the win for the team.' And it happened. And I just felt great."
Tampa Bay is now 79-64, and they never seem to give up.
"That's how you're supposed to play the game," said outfielder Tommy Pham, who set the table for Choi with a two-out single through the right side off Cleveland lefty Brad Hand. Choi then stepped to the plate, falling behind 0-1 to Hand. Choi turned on the next pitch, a 93.8-mph fastball, and deposited the ball into the right-field stands.
"When he hit it, I knew it was going to go," Pham said.
Tampa Bay took a 4-1 lead in the second, chasing Cleveland ace Corey Kluber after 1 2/3 innings. Jake Bauers' two-run homer fueled the outburst, which began when Joey Wendle tripled with one out.
But Cleveland fought back and Brandon Guyer's pinch-hit double off Adam Kolarek in the sixth drove home two to tie the game at 4.
Cleveland then took the lead in the seventh when Jose Ramirez scored on a fielder's choice to put the Indians up 5-4.
"What these guys are doing in here, they're creating an environment that kind of brings the confidence out of everyone," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "It's been special to sit and watch from afar. I think they feed off each other, and they've done a good job with that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Pham took a 1-2 pitch from Hand that was called a ball to move the count to 2-2 and stay alive with two outs in the ninth. He then made enough contact with an 82.2-mph slider to slice a single between second and first.
Hand is "a good pitcher in general," Pham said. "His offspeed pitches are tough to pick up. And you understand why he's so good. ... I've been hitting a lot of balls hard this year that have been getting caught or I'm getting out on, so it's nice to get something like that."
DOUBLE DIGIT HR'S
Bauers' 10th home run made him the first Rays rookie to reach double digits in homers since 2015 when both Steven Souza Jr. (16) and Curt Casali (10) did it.
HE SAID IT
"Winning creates a lot of things, there's no doubt. But the way these guys have carried themselves through a lot of tight ballgames, and even through some of the losing. … Sometimes you can tell a lot about the club or your players, when losing goes on. Not one time did you see them come in moping. They get frustrated and they do everything they can to flush it and then come back and win the next day." -- Cash, on the Rays
Tyler Glasnow will start Tuesday night when the Rays host the Indians in a 7:10 p.m. ET contest at Tropicana Field. Glasnow had his worst outing since joining the Rays at the Trade Deadline on Wednesday at Toronto, allowing seven runs on five hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning. Right-hander Shane Bieber will start for the Indians.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.