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Kiermaier, Dickerson led promising Rays in '17

Defensive wizard, slugger made year's top highlights
December 16, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG -- The 2017 season looked promising at the halfway point, enough so that the Rays' front office made a series of moves to strengthen the club. Despite that initiative, the Rays couldn't get rolling in the second half and finished in third place with an 80-82 record.Finding themselves

ST. PETERSBURG -- The 2017 season looked promising at the halfway point, enough so that the Rays' front office made a series of moves to strengthen the club. Despite that initiative, the Rays couldn't get rolling in the second half and finished in third place with an 80-82 record.
Finding themselves at seven games over .500 (51-44) and two games out of first place in the American League East on July 18, the Rays had reason to believe they could reach the postseason if they continued their steady ascent.
Management brought aboard shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria in late June, then relievers Dan Jennings, Sergio Romo, and Steve Cishek.
Tampa Bay dropped five in a row. And despite management's proactive approach, the club never got back in stride. But the Rays showed improvement from 2016. 
With the 2017 season in the books, let's take a look at the top five highlights.
1. What can't he do?
Kevin Kiermaier does everything in his power to try and help the Rays win, including a jaw-dropping catch in the ninth and a game-tying home run in the 14th on Sept. 15. The Red Sox still came away winners in a 6-hour, 5-minute, 15-inning game at Tropicana Field.

2. Breaking the cycle
Evan Longoria became the second player in Rays history (B.J. Upton, 2009) to hit for the cycle when he did so in a 6-4 win at Houston on Aug. 1. To accomplish the feat, Longoria stretched a single into a double in his final at-bat.

3. Slump buster
Corey Dickerson snapped an 0-for-21 spell with a two-out, three-run homer in the eighth, giving the Rays a 4-1 win over the Indians at Tropicana Field on Aug. 10.

4. Twice as nice
Logan Morrison connects for his second home run of the game and 31st overall to give the Rays a 3-2 win over the Cardinals in the 10th inning on Aug. 27.

5.Back in the saddle
Two days after blowing the save in an emotional extra-innings loss to the Red Sox, closer Alex Colome stepped back into the fray to pitch a scoreless ninth on four pitches against the Red Sox to earn his 45th save of the season.

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