By Bill Chastain and Jeffrey Flanagan
MLB.com |@wwchastain |
ST. PETERSBURG -- When Salvador Perez stepped to the plate in the seventh, Rays manager Kevin Cash elected to leave in left-hander Xavier Cedeno to pitch to the right-handed-hitting Royals catcher rather than bringing in righty Kevin Jepsen.
Perez made Cash's decision a wrong one by hitting a two-run homer to help give Kansas City a 3-2 win on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field.
"That's probably a decision I'll lose a little sleep over tonight for sure," Cash said.
The Royals trailed, 2-1, when the Rays brought in Cedeno to start the inning. Eric Hosmer greeted the Rays southpaw with a single to left, bringing up Perez. Cash liked the matchup with Cedeno's cutter riding into Perez and thought that Perez might chase something out of the strike zone.
Perez watched Cedeno's first pitch hit the dirt for ball one. He then re-routed an 88-mph fastball into the left-field stands for his 16th homer. The exit velocity was 98.7 mph, according to Statcast™.
Perez thought he might face Jepsen instead of Cedeno.
"I don't know, but I'll take it," Perez said. "[Cedeno] just throws cutters and sliders, and I got a cutter and hit it pretty good."
The back-to-back wins for the Royals were their first since June 29-30. Meanwhile, the Rays' record in one-run games fell to 7-18.
"July wasn't good for us," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "But we're hoping August is a lot better."
The Royals took a 1-0 lead in the first on Hosmer's RBI single. The Rays answered in the fifth when Logan Forsythe scored from second base after Yordano Ventura fielded Kevin Kiermaier's bunt single and threw wildly to first. One out later, Kiermaier scored from third on Desmond Jennings' groundout to put the Rays up 2-1.
Chris Young earned the win to move to 3-8, while Cedeno took the loss to drop to 3-3. Kelvin Herrera pitched a scoreless ninth for his third save.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Rookie steps up: With a bullpen depleted by injuries to Luke Hochevar (out for the season) and Wade Davis (15-day disabled list), Yost turned to rookie left-hander Matt Strahm, who made his Major League debut on Sunday. Yost threw Strahm into a high-leverage situation out of necessity, and the kid came through, striking out Brad Miller with two on and one out in the seventh with the Royals clinging to a 3-2 lead. Strahm then struck out Jennings to end the inning. More >
"He showed he belongs," fellow reliever Joakim Soria said of Strahm.
Yost said he had no hesitation to bring in Strahm in that situation. Yost also had little choice.
"It's about opportunity, man," Yost said. "Take advantage of it. That's what it's about. Here's your opportunity. It's a tough situation, but we've got confidence you can come in with your stuff and get outs."
Andriese steps into rotation: A day after the Rays traded Matt Moore to the Giants, Matt Andriese left the bullpen to take Moore's place in the rotation. Though limited by the number of pitches he could throw, Andriese yielded a run on three hits while striking out three in four innings. He threw 58 pitches, of which 42 were strikes. He's earmarked to remain in the rotation. Based on how he's pitched this season, he's a good bet to be in the rotation next season. More >
"I knew I wasn't going to be able to go deep into the game," Andriese said. "But to be able to get four quality innings out there feels good. It's a good one to build off of for the next one."
Practice pays.: Hours before the start of Tuesday night's game, Kiermaier could be seen practicing bunting. That paid dividends in the fifth when he put down a bunt with Forsythe on second. Not only did Forsythe reach third on the play, he scored when Ventura threw wildly to first. That tied the score at 1. Kiermaier, who was moved to the No. 2 spot in the order -- where he will remain for the time being -- later scored the Rays' second run in the inning.
"I'm glad they trust me to put me in the two spot," Kiermaier said. "And their message to me was they don't want me to put any added pressure on myself, and I won't. I just want to be up there, I want to hit behind Logan Forsythe and in front of Longo."
"Tough loss. I thought we did some good things, did some things we'd like to have some opportunities back that we didn't capitalize on getting guys on base. That's the way it goes. They pitched well against us." -- Cash
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The Rays went 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position and left 11 on base. They are 8-9 since the All-Star break and have hit .141 with RISP in those losses compared to .403 in those wins.
UNDER REVIEW Nick Franklin was ruled out trying to steal second base against Perez in the third inning. After a review, the call on the field was confirmed.
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: Right-hander Edinson Volquez (8-9, 4.70 ERA) takes the mound on Wednesday at 6:10 p.m. CT in the third game of the series at Tropicana Field. He'll be making his team-leading 23rd start. Volquez went six innings last Friday against Texas, where he gave up five earned runs in an 8-3 loss.
Rays: Right-hander Jake Odorizzi (5-5, 3.88) will make his 23rd start on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. ET, hoping to extend his scoreless streak of 14 2/3 innings. A key to his recent success is the fact he has not issued any walks in his past two starts. Odorizzzi is the first pitcher in Rays history to record consecutive scoreless starts without a walk, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.