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Kiermaier's slam jump-starts big offensive night

Ramos homers twice, Bauers records four hits in 11-run outburst
MLB.com @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- Kevin Kiermaier took care of business with the bases loaded, connecting for a grand slam in the second inning of the Rays' 11-0 win over the Nationals on Monday night at Tropicana Field.

"Bases juiced right there, I just wanted to put the ball in play and drive in a run whatever way I could," Kiermaier said. "I was hoping to maybe get under it, where I could get a sac fly or a drive in the gap and maybe run a little bit. But I'll take that ... second [career] grand slam. It felt great. It felt good to barrel up a ball and take advantage of a ball I should hit."

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Kevin Kiermaier took care of business with the bases loaded, connecting for a grand slam in the second inning of the Rays' 11-0 win over the Nationals on Monday night at Tropicana Field.

"Bases juiced right there, I just wanted to put the ball in play and drive in a run whatever way I could," Kiermaier said. "I was hoping to maybe get under it, where I could get a sac fly or a drive in the gap and maybe run a little bit. But I'll take that ... second [career] grand slam. It felt great. It felt good to barrel up a ball and take advantage of a ball I should hit."

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Grand slams mean 40% off pizza

Kiermaier wasn't the only Rays starter to square up Nationals pitching, as catcher Wilson Ramos socked two homers and rookie sensation Jake Bauers had four hits, one day after hitting his first career walk-off home run. 

Video: WSH@TB: Ramos homers twice against his former team

Kiermaier's blast came off Washington starter Gio Gonzalez, putting the Rays up, 6-0. And, boy, did Kiermaier ever need that one.

Tampa Bay's much-heralded American League Glove Award winner had struggled on offense since coming off the disabled list last week.

Though he tripled to lead off Sunday's win against the Yankees, Kiermaier entered Monday night's game sporting a .141 batting average with one RBI. On top of that, he'd struck out in his first at-bat against Gonzalez, and he chased a couple of pitches out of the strike zone in the second, an inning in which the Nats' lefty couldn't throw a strike.

"He has a really good two-seamer," Kiermaier said of Gonzalez. "We faced him back in 2015. I don't really remember it moving as much as it did. I know he was having trouble throwing strikes tonight and he was really trying to get guys to go after his changeup. And I did a couple of times. ... He's a guy who likes doing that. I was just trying to get back into a hitter's count."

When the count reached 3-2, the magic happened.

Kiermaier re-routed an 89.6-mph cutter, depositing the ball over the wall in center field, just over the outstretched glove of Nationals center fielder Michael A. Taylor

Kiermaier said he thought he hit the ball farther than he did, and that he was relieved that Taylor didn't come down with it.

"You know, I keep telling people, this game is a funny game," Kiermaier said. "I go on my rehab assignment and I was barreling up so many balls, and ever since I've been back in the big leagues that hasn't been the case.

"Worked myself up to a 3-2 count. ... Felt really good up there the past few days. Still a few things, you know, I need to swing at a few more strikes and lay off a couple of bad pitches. But baseball's hard. It's really hard."

Kiermaier's grand slam was the second of his career. On July 9, 2014, he hit his first off Yordano Ventura in a 5-4 loss to the Royals at Tropicana Field.

Of all the runs put up by the Rays' offense Monday night, manager Kevin Cash said, "K.K.'s had to have stood out the most, because that was kind of the separator."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Kevin Kiermaier