ARLINGTON -- The Rays were down to their last out Wednesday night when Kevin Kiermaier stepped to the plate to face hard-throwing Rangers right-hander Matt Bush.What happened next triggered fond memories for Rays fans: Kiermaier homered on the first pitch to tie the game. Then the Rays came away with
ARLINGTON -- The Rays were down to their last out Wednesday night when Kevin Kiermaier stepped to the plate to face hard-throwing Rangers right-hander Matt Bush.
What happened next triggered fond memories for Rays fans: Kiermaier homered on the first pitch to tie the game. Then the Rays came away with a 7-5 win in 10 innings to take the three-game series at Globe Life Park.
The last Rays player to tie a game via a homer with two outs in the ninth was Dan Johnson, on Sept. 28, 2011, a night better known as "Game 162."
"I was hoping to get a good pitch to hit early," Kiermaier said. "And I was hunting a fastball. And thankfully, I was on time, and put a good swing on a good pitch. I'm glad it had the trajectory and everything to tie the game up. Any time you can hit a homer to tie or go ahead, it's awesome."
"Nobody's really done anything [against Bush]," manager Kevin Cash said. "[Kiermaier] had some good swings. And he didn't miss that one."
In Tuesday night's 9-5 loss to the Rangers, Kiermaier faced Bush with two outs in the ninth, and he battled before popping out to first on the 10th pitch of the at-bat, ending the game.
Kiermaier said the previous night's experience probably helped him Wedneday.
"It did. I knew what to expect," Kiermaier said. "Guys who throw 97-to-100 [mph], they like throwing that. You know he has good off-speed, too. But right there, he's going to try and challenge me with the heater.
"And that's what I was looking for. I just wanted to make sure I was on time. ... Definitely seeing 10 pitches from him last night might have helped me out tonight. I knew what to expect, and, fortunately, it ended up working out for us."
Said Bush: "Kiermaier connected with a pitch that I'm going to throw all the time."
Kiermaier has six home runs this season, three of which have come on pitches 96 mph or faster, according to Statcast™. Wednesday night's blast came on a 98-mph pitch.
"Matt Bush is an elite closer in this game, and that makes [the homer] sweeter," Kiermaier said. "Because it's very few and far between with guys like that. Nonetheless, very happy to tie the game there with two outs in the ninth."
It was Kiermaier's latest game-tying homer. He hit a one-out homer in the ninth in Seattle on May 11, 2016, but the Rays lost, 6-5, in extra innings.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.