Slugging Rays keep foot on gas in Detroit

May 21st, 2016

DETROIT -- Kevin Kiermaier broke a tie in the sixth inning with a bases-clearing triple, helping send the Rays to their fourth straight win, a 7-5 victory over the Tigers on Friday night at Comerica Park.

The victory ended Detroit's four-game winning streak.

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Though Steven Souza Jr. hit a leadoff homer in Tampa Bay's three-run first inning off Anibal Sanchez, the first of Miguel Cabrera's two home runs tied it at 3 in the third. Sanchez settled down to retire 10 in a row, but the third time through the order haunted him.

Lefty Kyle Ryan came within an out of stranding his two inherited baserunners before walking the left-handed-hitting Logan Morrison. Kiermaier, also a left-handed hitter, jumped on Ryan's next pitch and ripped it into the right-field corner.

"He got to two outs and then pitches carefully to Morrison with a base open," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "It was a slider [to Kiermaier], looked like he was trying to go down and away and just kind of left it in the middle. That's part of the game."

Detroit closed to within one by plating a run in the sixth and seventh, the latter coming on Cabrera's second homer, but Steve Pearce's eighth-inning solo drive provided the Rays an insurance run.

Representing the tying run with two outs in the ninth inning, Cabrera singled to extend the Tigers' rally, but Victor Martinez grounded out to end the game.

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"Good win. That was interesting, to say the least," said Rays manager Kevin Cash, obviously not pleased with some of the sloppy play. "A lot of stuff going on out there today. Ultimately, at the end of the day, we got the win."


Maybin marches on: Thursday's off-day did nothing to cool off Cameron Maybin since his return from the disabled list earlier this week. After Justin Upton drew a one-out walk in the second, Maybin moved him to third on a well-executed hit-and-run play, sending a ground ball through the open right side. That put Upton in position to score when Andriese balked, putting the Tigers on the scoreboard. Maybin added two more ground-ball singles for his first three-hit game since last July 4 as a member of the Braves.

"That's the biggest thing right now, playing within myself," Maybin said. "The only way I'm going to help this team is being on base, and that's my main focus."  More >

Shift backfires: After Ian Kinsler singled to start the bottom of the third, the Rays shifted to the left side of the infield against the right-handed-hitting J.D. Martinez, who hit the ball where the Rays were stationed -- but the shift backfired. Pearce, who was behind second base, went to his right to try to field Martinez's grounder. Instead, shortstop Brad Miller scooped up the ball but had no one to throw to at second. He threw to first for the first out of the inning, but instead of a sure double play, the play left a runner aboard for Cabrera, whose homer temporarily pulled Detroit even.

Cabrera strikes again: Cabrera delivered in the seventh inning, this time with a drive to straightaway center off Erasmo Ramirez that hit the front of Comerica Park's center-field camera well. The homer -- hit a projected 431 feet from the plate, according to Statcast™ -- made it a 6-5 game.

"He seems to be coming around nicely," Ausmus said. "He's driving the ball. He's starting to really look like Miggy."  More >

Kiermaier's first three-bagger: Kiermaier finished second in the Major Leagues in triples in 2015 with 12 (Minnesota's Eddie Rosario had 15). Last season, the Rays center fielder got his first triple in Tampa Bay's second game of the season. He'd been without a three-bagger in 2016 until he came up with two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the sixth. Kiermaier, who has three triples in three career games at Comerica Park, laced one down the right-field line to clear the bases and give the Rays a 6-3 lead.  More >


"Quite frankly, he just has to get through it one time, whether it's because he's pitching well or he just gets through it because the batters make outs." -- Ausmus, on Sanchez's struggles this season the third time through the order

"He's a special player. Played against him. Coached against him. Saw him way too much in Cleveland when I was the bullpen coach there. The guy's unbelievable." -- Cash, on Cabrera


Maybin's steal of second in the fourth inning extended Hank Conger's infamous run. The Rays catcher has thrown out one of the last 51 baserunners attempting to steal against him, dating to last season, when he played for the Astros.


Rays:Drew Smyly (2-4, 3.44 ERA) will make his second career start against his former team as this three-game series continues on Saturday at 4:10 p.m. ET. The left-hander struggled with his control in his last outing but showed mettle by pitching out of a couple of jams. Look for him to be ahead in most counts.

Tigers: Right-hander Michael Fulmer (2-1, 6.52 ERA), the Tigers' top prospect, will make his fifth Major League start. It'll be Fulmer's first game at Comerica Park after four starts on the road.

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