Five man rotation to start the season! It was all but official,...
Rays avoid sweep to Orioles with 7-6 slugfest win
ST. PETERSBURG — By Kevin Kiermaier’s recollection, that’s the farthest he’s hit a home run.
“Yeah, I’ve never hit one that far,” the speedy centerfielder said with a smile.
Kiermaier drove in three runs, Nick Franklin homered and Corey Dickerson drove in the winning run as the Tampa Bay Rays topped the Baltimore Orioles to avoid a three-game sweep and win the 7-6 slugfest Wednesday afternoon in front of a crowd of 10,537 at Tropicana Field.
Kiermaier hit a first-inning homer estimated at 425 feet into the right field stands that gave the Rays a quick 1-0 lead, but J.J. Hardy would hit an two-run double to grab back a 2-1 lead for the O’s. However, Franklin’s two-run shot in the second gave the Rays a 3-2 lead.
“Nick and KK had big days,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Everybody did their part (offensive) on that end.”
The Orioles wouldn’t let the Rays keep the lead for long, scoring three runs in the third behind a homer by Michael Bourn, a wild pitch that scored Manny Machado and a sac fly by Jonathan Schoop.
Mikie Mahtook would have three singles which lead to him scoring three times.
“I was fortune to find some grass and help us score some runs,” Mahtook said. “It’s been a weird year, playing hurt, but I’ve been healthy for a while now and its time for me to play well. There are no more excuses.”
Kiermaier would hit a two-run, opposite-field single in the fourth that scored Mahtook and Franklin and tied the game at five. Drew Stubbs would send home Schoop in the fifth, while Dickson would single to score Logan Morrison to extend the game to a 6-6 tie after six innings.
“(Kiermaier) sets the tone quite a bit,” Cash added. “The home run, obviously, but what KK does on the field really energized our dugout. … The most impressive thing KK did, in my opinion, was the at-bat (in the fourth) where he went the other way to pick up the two runs.”
Brad Boxberger pitched a scoreless seventh, which allowed Dickerson to come up with the go-ahead RBI double in the bottom of the inning. Dickerson, who dropped to one knee to make contact, hit a high fly ball that Adam Jones couldn’t track down and allowed Mahtook to score what would be the game-winning run.
Danny Farquhar would pitch a scoreless eighth by striking out both Jones and Bourne, while Alex Colome would pitch a perfect ninth for his 31st save.
“(Farquhar’s) gotten hot,” Cash said. “He’s been really good this past month. We’re starting to see the guy we anticipated we were going to see.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter, on the other hand, has been impressed by Colome.
“(Colome) at the end is very quietly one of the best closers in baseball,” he said. “When you score six runs, you’d like to have a little better result.”
Starters roughed up
Drew Smyly and Bundy took to the mounds for their respective clubs Wednesday and both lasted just 3.2 innings. Bundy, who has not had a good outing in three appearances vs. the Rays, allowed five runs on seven hits and walked two, though did strike out seven.
Smyly didn’t fare much better, allowing four runs on seven hits and walking three.
“Drew just had an off day — couldn’t quite get a feel for the curveball,” Cash said. “A lot of curveballs came up short, lot of balls in the dirt and it looked like him and (catcher Luke) Maile just couldn’t get on the right page today.”
“Ever since pitch one,” Bundy added, “they were fouling pitches off — the ones that weren’t good and the good ones. It’s just baseball. You have to get better — watch some video on them and just get better.”
Up next vs. the New York Yankees
Thursday: RHP Alex Cobb (0-0, 3.60) vs. LHP C.C. Sabathia (8-12, 4.20)
Friday: LHP Blake Snell (5-7, 3.39) vs. RHP Michael Pineda (6-11, 5.10)
Saturday: RHP Chris Archer (8-17, 4.06) vs. RHP Masahiro Tanaka (12-4, 3.11)
Sunday: RHP Matt Andriese (6-7, 4.58) vs. RHP Luis Cessa (4-0, 4.07)
Follow Mike on Twitter.