05/23 21:28 CDT Rays get inside-the-park homer, 3 others in stopping Indians
Rays get inside-the-park homer, 3 others in stopping Indians
By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) --- As he sprinted madly around the bases, Kevin Kiermaier
wondered when he'd stop.
He never did.
Kiermaier legged out a three-run, inside-the-park homer when Cleveland
outfielders Oscar Mercado and Leonys Martin collided, and Ryan Yarbrough
handled the Indians' struggling lineup into the eighth inning of his first
start this season to lead the Tampa Bay Rays to a 7-2 win Thursday night.
With the Rays ahead 3-0 in the sixth, Kiermaier hit a sinking liner to
left-center. Mercado and Martin converged on the ball before slamming into each
other as they each made an all-out attempt at catching it.
Mercado took the worst of the crash as Martin's left knee drove hard into his
right hip. As the two Indians players lay helplessly in the grass, the ball
ricocheted toward the left field corner and Kiermaier easily circled the bases
for the first inside-the-parker allowed by Cleveland since 2008.
"I never saw the ball --- at all," said Kiermaier, who feared he'd get thrown
out. "I was just running to run. At the time, I didn't know what was going on.
I was so confused running the bases. I don't know what the heck happened."
Once he rounded third, Kiermaier stopped worrying. But even back in the dugout,
he was puzzled.
"I asked my teammates, 'Is that a homer? What just happened?'" he said.
Tommy Pham, Avisail Garca and Willy Adames hit solo homers off Adam Plutko
(1-1) as the Rays improved baseball's best road record to 16-7.
Yarbrough (3-1), recalled before the game after a stint at Triple-A Durham,
allowed two runs and four hits in a career-high 7 1/3 innings. The left-hander
began the year in Tampa Bay's bullpen, but struggled and was sent down April 24
to work on his mechanics.
He looked fine-tuned against the Indians, who dropped their fourth straight and
nearly lost two more players to injury on a freakish play in the sixth.
The collision between Mercado and Martin sums up the Indians lately. Nothing is
Mercado was down for several minutes before getting to a crouch and finally
standing. He did some jogging as manager Terry Francona looked on and remained
in the game only to be further tested in the inning as he had to race in to
catch a short fly and a line drive.
"It couldn't have been placed any (more) perfectly," Mercado said. "We both
went at it full speed and it's just one of those things where it's tough to
call, because you don't know if you're going to get to it and it's just, like,
a last-minute --- we both reacted and dove. Unfortunately, it resulted in that,
but it's a learning experience."
Mercado singled in the sixth before being lifted for a pinch-hitter. Martin
jammed his knee, but stayed in.
Kiermaier hoped both Mercado and Martin were OK.
"It's not fun," he said. "After watching the replay, they hit really good. I
hit that ball in a perfect spot. Both of them could not make the play, but they
ran into each other. As an outfielder, that's never what you want to do."
BANG, BANG, BANG
The Rays didn't waste any time getting to Plutko, as three of Tampa Bay's first
six batters homered.
Plutko allowed just one hit --- a homer --- while winning his season debut
against Baltimore on May 18. But the right-hander wasn't nearly as effective
this time, yielding eight hits in the first four innings and 12 in 5 1/3.
"Clearly, they were better than I was today," Plutko said. "They got to me
early. Hung with them for a bit and they delivered the knockout blow there in
the sixth. Not my best day."
Rays third baseman Daniel Robertson was replaced in the fifth after suffering
an allergic reaction. He has a severe nut allergy and was affected after eating
a sweet-potato dish in the clubhouse that contained pecans.
The Rays improved to 8-1 in road series openers.
Rays: INF Yandy Diaz won't get to face his former team after being placed on
the injured list with a badly bruised left hand. He was hit by a pitch Sunday
against the New York Yankees and sat out two games before the Rays decided to
give him extended rest. Diaz, batting .256 with nine homers and 22 RBIs, was
acquired from Cleveland in a three-team trade in December.
Indians: C Roberto Perez sat out his second game in a row with a head injury
suffered when he was hit in the mask by a foul ball Tuesday.
Rays: LHP Blake Snell (3-4, 3.31 ERA) took a no-hitter into the seventh inning
of his previous start against Cleveland on Sept. 12. The reigning AL Cy Young
Award winner has 30 strikeouts in his last three starts.
Indians: RHP Shane Bieber (3-2, 3.22) fanned 15 in a shutout last week against
Baltimore. His outing was just the 15th since 1908 in which a pitcher had 15
strikeouts without a walk.
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