Bunt by Kiermaier a matter of perfecto timing

With Yanks' Tanaka cruising early, Rays outfielder starts a rally

Bunt by Kiermaier a matter of perfecto timing

NEW YORK -- The unwritten rules say you never bunt to break up a no-hitter.

Kevin Kiermaier wasn't concerned with that Saturday afternoon during the Rays' 8-4 loss to the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka had a perfect game going, retiring the first 10 hitters in order as New York took a 2-0 lead. Then Kiermaier stepped to the plate with one out in the fourth.

"He retired the first 10 batters, a great job," Kiermaier said. "But I wanted to try and lay one down there and put the pressure on the defense and it ended up working out for us that inning."

Tanaka threw an 82-mph slider on the first pitch and Kiermaier dropped a bunt down the third-base line, racing to first to reach with a single. Yankees fans booed, aghast that Kiermaier would dare bunt to break up a perfect game.

Taboo, maybe, but winning is the goal of any game, and Kiermaier's bunt single ignited a go-ahead rally.

"It was the fourth inning," Kiermaier said. "I heard [the boos]. We went one time through the order and I wanted to take a chance right there and you saw what happened the rest of that inning. So I don't really care if those people boo or not. I think people who know the game, nothing wrong with fourth inning."

Evan Longoria followed Kiermaier's bunt with a single to right before Brad Miller hit a three-run homer to left, giving the Rays a 3-2 lead.

Miller's two-homer afternoon

Kiermaier's bunt was "a great play," Miller said.

"That's part of his game. He laid down a perfect bunt. Nobody's going to make that play on him if he puts it in the right spot. We're playing baseball. I believe it was a two-run game at the time. And that's what he does. He's a catalyst. It was a lot of fun to come up and hit after him. After he's run all over the place."

Kiermaier didn't feel as though his bunt was out of line for the fourth inning, but he allowed: "Now late in the game, I know not to do that around the sixth or the seventh."

To that response, a reporter pressed him further by asking, "Really, you wouldn't?

Kiermaier answered: "Depending on the game situation. Fourth inning there's no problem with it at all. I felt like I was going to get a pitch to bunt right there, and I did, and it worked out."

Whether or not Kiermaier would put one down late in a no-hitter remains to be seen. But Rays manager Kevin Cash had no problems with Kiermaier bunting.

"I thought it was outstanding," Cash said. "Look, it came in the third inning, give me a break. Fourth inning, whatever it was. That's what we're asking K.K. to do. So if someone's grumpy about it they can be grumpy with me. I thought it was a great play and led to us getting three runs."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.