ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays delivered under pressure when they most needed to in the second inning, turning what might have become a lost opportunity into a three-run frame. Tampa Bay went on to top New York, 4-1, on Wednesday evening.
How did the second inning become so critical? Flash back to the start of the inning, when the Rays had runners at second and third with one out and the score tied at 1. Mallex Smith grounded to third and Chase Headley threw out Steven Souza Jr. at the plate for the second out.
The Rays challenged, but the out call on Souza was upheld.
"It can be deflating -- you just had the lead run taken away," Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Suddenly, the Rays were faced with coming up empty-handed, despite threatening against Yankees starter Michael Pineda. Enter Norris and Dickerson.
Norris drove home two when he slashed a single to right.
"Derek, he looked like he was battling a little bit, Pineda had some good sliders," Cash said. "He got a fastball up and [Norris] smoked the ball past [Yankees second baseman Starlin] Castro. That was a huge hit."
Norris noted that over the years he's "really taken a lot of pride in two-out RBIs."
"Two-out RBIs, getting that big knock," Norris said. "Those are swing runs. Especially early on in the game when [Alex] Cobb's throwing as well as he was. I think that really swung the game in our favor, and it ended up staying there. It was a big momentum shifter for us."
The Rays' catcher then stole second base.
"I don't know what Derek Norris was doing," said Cash, allowing himself a chuckle. "But I'm glad it worked out."
Norris explained his thought process.
"[Pineda] had a high leg kick a couple of times," Norris said. "It was an 0-2 count and in my mind, I'm thinking, 'If I end up getting thrown out, so what? The top of the order has to lead off and Dickerson was taking some good swings. So why not?'"
With Norris in scoring position, Dickerson drove him home with a single to right to complete the three-run outburst.
"Keep the line moving," Dickerson said. "I think that was the biggest part of the night offensively, where we kept it going. You know, didn't give up."
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.