After Kiermaier's clutch HR, Rays walk off on WP

Pagan blows save, but Tampa Bay answers Seattle's rally in 9th

August 22nd, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays needed a late spark to avoid a three-game sweep against the Seattle Mariners, and was there to provide it. Kiermaier belted a game-tying home run in the ninth inning that led to a 7-6 walk-off win for Tampa Bay on Wednesday at Tropicana Field.

Kiermaier, who had four RBIs in the game, battled to a full count with Mariners reliever Matt Magill before driving a pitch to straightaway center and over the 404-foot sign to tie the game.

“It felt great,” Kiermaier said. “The game took a turn for us in the ninth inning there, and I knew coming up right there to lead off the inning I had to do something. I just wanted to get on base to be honest, but once I got back to a 3-2 count, I sold out for a fastball and got one that I didn’t miss.”

followed with a single and Michael Brosseau doubled to put runners at second and third with no outs. After pinch-hitter was intentionally walked to load the bases, fought off some pitches from Magill before he threw a breaking ball in the dirt that catcher Omar Narvaez couldn’t handle, and Adames easily scored from third.

“My breaking ball has gotten some ground balls recently so stay low,” Magill said. “That one just got too low, and it got away. It wasn’t blockable. It was my fault.”

Kiermaier, who also had a two-run single in the fourth inning, is 4-for-8 with five RBIs in the past two games, and manager Kevin Cash hopes it’s the start of something good for the two-time Gold Glove outfielder.

“He had a big night [Tuesday],” Cash said. “It looked like he stayed on the ball for the double down the line. We were hoping that was a sign of good things to come. He battled on a pitch today with the bases loaded and he is a really tough guy to double up. And then he comes up with the big home run. We need to get him hot.”

The walk-off win was the third for the Rays during their six-game homestand. Tampa Bay is tied with the Athletics for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Seattle trailed, 5-3, going into the ninth inning, but Daniel Vogelbach homered and Mallex Smith added a two-run triple off Rays closer to give the Mariners a one-run lead.

“I think you can call it an ugly win, whatever,” Kiermaier said. “As long as it ends with [a win], we’ll take as many as we can.”

Kiermaier said the Rays’ ability to battle back has been their calling card all season and it’s something that continues to define the team.

“It’s a mentality that we have -- regardless of how many runs we get down, we’re going to try to battle back, and that’s just who we are,” Kiermaier said. “So this was a great bounce-back win for us and it will be a happy flight, and we really have to dig deep, look ourselves in the mirror, do whatever, because we need to handle some business in Baltimore and really start putting teams away again like we’re capable of.”