Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

MLB News

Ramos rocks potential ASG teammate Verlander

Catcher has 4 RBIs; bullpen-day strategy works again in win @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- Wilson Ramos -- "The Buffalo" -- put forth his own All-Star marketing campaign on Saturday with four RBIs against Justin Verlander to lead a 5-2 Rays win over the Astros at Tropicana Field.

VOTE: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

View Full Game Coverage

ST. PETERSBURG -- Wilson Ramos -- "The Buffalo" -- put forth his own All-Star marketing campaign on Saturday with four RBIs against Justin Verlander to lead a 5-2 Rays win over the Astros at Tropicana Field.

VOTE: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

View Full Game Coverage

The win moved Tampa Bay to .500 on the season at 41-41, and improved the team's record on the current homestand to 7-1.

Ramos, who was the American League's leading vote-getter at catcher on the latest Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot voting update, came up twice in the first two innings with the bases loaded. He doubled home two in the first, then followed with a two-run single in the second to put the Rays up 5-0.

"Tonight, I was concentrating on getting a good pitch to hit," Ramos said. "First two at-bats with the bases loaded, I just wanted to put the ball in play. … Verlander's a really good pitcher. If you get the chance to take advantage of him, you have to do it. And that's what we did today."

Video: HOU@TB: Ramos singles up the middle to drive in 2

Kevin Kiermaier, who got hit by a Verlander pitch to start the Rays' first-inning rally, said that Ramos has "been doing it all year.

"He's locked in right now," Kiermaier said. "His bat is as locked as I've ever seen it. He's dangerous when he steps to the plate and right now more than ever it feels like."

Verlander surrendered nine hits and five runs, both were his most since his trade to the Astros. Rays manager Kevin Cash allowed that seeing Verlander in Houston on June 19 probably helped on Saturday.

"For whatever reason, he didn't have the best feel for his breaking ball early on," Cash said. "We got on some fastballs. Wilson Ramos came up huge. He laid off some breaking balls to get in the 3-1 count and it looked like he was trying to go down and away with a fastball and it leaked back over the plate and Wilson was ready for it, middle in. Really came up with two huge hits. That was the game for us offensively. We had to get on base, but Wilson did a really nice job of bringing them in."

Video: HOU@TB: Cash on Ramos' big night at the plate in win

Verlander conceded that he wasn't sharp, but he added: "Also definitely didn't have luck on my side, and loaded the bases for their hottest hitter."

Meanwhile, the Rays' "bullpen day" once again proved effective. Ryne Stanek pitched a scoreless first. Vidal Nuno then pitched a strong 4 2/3 innings, allowing just a two-run homer to Alex Bregman in the sixth after Adeiny Hechavarria's first error of the season. Jose Alvarado followed with 1 1/3 scoreless innings and Chaz Roe added a scoreless eighth, leading to Sergio Romo, who retired the Astros in order in the ninth to preserve the win and earn his seventh save of the season.

Video: HOU@TB: Nuno punches out Gattis in the 4th inning

"It's pretty remarkable what they've strung together here as of late and today was no different," Cash said.

Video: HOU@TB: Romo collects 7th save in 5-2 win

Hechavarria's fielding error in the sixth brought to a close an epic streak. The Rays shortstop had not made an error since July 30, 2017, at New York against the Yankees. His errorless streak lasted 94 games, and he handled 319 chances in between his last error and his error Saturday night. Both are the longest streaks for a shortstop in club history.

"He's the best I've ever seen, close to 100 games errorless," Cash said. "Today was almost shocking. Like you almost wanted to hit the re-run button, like, 'Did that really just happen?' … Special, special player, special defender and he'll start another one here tomorrow."

Video: HOU@TB: Hechavarria's error ends errorless streak

Stanek pitched a scoreless first inning, giving him seven consecutive scoreless starts, the longest streak since Baseball Reference data is available (1908).

Jake Marisnick lined a ball into center to lead off the Astros' sixth. Rays center fielder Kiermaier pinned back his ears and charged hard toward the drive. He dove toward second base at the last instant and came away with the catch. Statcast™ ranked Kiermaier's grab as a 3-star catch with a 73 percent catch probability for Kiermaier, who needed to go 56 feet in 3.9 seconds.

Video: HOU@TB: Kiermaier robs Marisnick on diving grab

"That was the most exciting play I've made as a left fielder. Off the bat, it looked like it was to the infield, but Rocco [Baldelli, outfield coach] said, 'Pretend like every ball is to you and every ball is yours until it's not.' Just stayed on it and was able to scoop it up at the end." -- Joey Wendle, on his diving catch in left field

Video: HOU@TB: Wendle robs Reddick with a sliding catch

Blake Snell will start Sunday when the Rays host the Astros in a 1:10 p.m. ET contest at Tropicana Field. After allowing two walks in the first inning Monday against the Nationals, Snell retired the next 18 batters he faced. His home ERA is 0.81. Right-hander Charlie Morton will start for the Astros.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Wilson Ramos