Souza puts finishing touches on Rays' victory
Outfielder starts DP in 8th, homers in 9th Friday vs. Indians
CLEVELAND -- Closers are relief pitchers who get the final three outs. Right?
Not so fast. In the Rays' 4-1 win over the Indians on Friday night, Steven Souza Jr. was the closer. The Rays outfielder performed closing duties for all intents and purposes with his bat and his glove late in the game.
First, the glove work.
With the Rays holding a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the eighth, Jason Kipnis led off with a single against Jake McGee.
But Souza quickly negated any momentum the Indians gained from the Kipnis single when he made a sliding catch on Francisco Lindor's fly to shallow right. Souza quickly got to his feet and threw to first to double off Kipnis. McGee then struck out Michael Brantley for the third out.
"It was a close play, it was right in that triangle," Souza said. "I thought either one of us [second baseman Logan Forsythe or him] was going to have to make a dive for it. I was full-speed ahead and Logan was kind of sideways, so I made the call. Barely snatched it up."
Despite being close to first base, Souza's throw arrived on one hop to first baseman Jake Elmore, prompting Souza to tease: "I wanted to give Jake a nice one hop right there. ... That's the way we teach it around here, one hop to any base."
Souza then led off the top of the ninth for the Rays and crushed a home run to deep left field off Scott Atchison.
"Steven Souza, for two years I've seen a lot of home runs [at Progressive Field]," said Rays manager Kevin Cash, who served as the Indians bullpen coach in 2013 and 2014. "That might have been one of the farther ones. ... That was a bomb."
Souza's 14th home run of the season gave the Rays a 4-1 lead.
"It was just a pitch up, he made a mistake," Souza said. "I barreled it and it caught some air and it went out."
Souza's blast hit the clock in left field. When asked about his home run's placement, he smiled.
"Well, it shouldn't have been hanging there, you know," Souza said.