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Cash raves about Kiermaier's performance

Rays Gold Glove CF makes 2 dazzling grabs, hits big HR and throws out runner
MLB.com @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- Kevin Kiermaier's diving catch in the ninth inning of Friday night's Rays-Red Sox contest was still on everyone's mind Saturday.

Not only did Kiermaier make a circus catch in the ninth, the Rays' center fielder threw out a runner and hit a game-tying home run in the 14th inning.

Full Game Coverage

ST. PETERSBURG -- Kevin Kiermaier's diving catch in the ninth inning of Friday night's Rays-Red Sox contest was still on everyone's mind Saturday.

Not only did Kiermaier make a circus catch in the ninth, the Rays' center fielder threw out a runner and hit a game-tying home run in the 14th inning.

Full Game Coverage

Kevin Cash was asked if Kiermaier's performance was one of the best he'd seen in some time, and the Rays manager acknowledged that it was.

"Yeah, that was pretty impressive," Cash said. "I even texted him after the game, 'Fun to watch, sick that we lost the ballgame,' because I think he did everything in his power to win. A lot of special plays were made."

Video: BOS@TB: Kiermaier lays out for five-star catch

Standing out among all of his plays was the ninth-inning grab when Jackie Bradley Jr. hit what appeared to be at least a double to the gap in left-center field with the potential tying and go-ahead runs on base. Kiermaier shifted his body into high gear and managed to run down the ball, making a diving backhanded catch before rolling into the wall.

"That was one of my better ones, and I just think it comes down to degree of difficulty," Kiermaier said. "You know, I had to be my full speed the whole way. I got a good read on it. Timed my jump perfectly. Ended up working out in my favor to make the play right there. But I'd say that's definitely in the Top 3 of my career. And it felt good to come down with it at the time. ... Today, I might be a little sore after that. But you know what? I'm willing to put my body on the line each and every day for this team. And that's how I've been my whole career. And that's how I'll be until my body tells me otherwise."

A week earlier, Bradley stole extra bases from Kiermaier at Fenway Park when he made an amazing catch for the last out. Afterward, Kiermaier simply tipped his cap to Bradley.

"I wanted to run a lot right there," Kiermaier said. "But he made a great play there to end the game. It was one of those plays where I wasn't even that mad because I know what he's capable of out there. He's a phenomenal player. He made a really nice catch on me."

Bradley was asked if the catch had been Kiermaier's revenge for his grab.

"That's what he said," said Bradley, who talked to Kiermaier during a replay review in the 11th inning. "I was mad at the moment [Kiermaier made the play], but you definitely have to respect that play, it was a tremendous play by a tremendous player. Unbelievable catch."

Kiermaier noted he feels like he's taken away "a lot more hits" than he's had hits taken away from him.

"I'm always going to try and have the upper hand on that," Kiermaier said.

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Tampa Bay Rays, Kevin Kiermaier