By Bill Chastain and Connor Mount
MLB.com |@wwchastain |
ST. PETERSBURG -- Corey Dickerson stepped to the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning riding an 0-for-21 streak. There were two outs, two aboard and the score was tied when the Rays' slugger put away the mental baggage and delivered, hitting a three-run homer to lift the Rays to a 4-1 win over the Indians on Thursday night at Tropicana Field.
"The game is hard," Dickerson said. "It's hard for anybody, but it's about how quick you can bounce back from it. ... That's what I'm expected to do. That's why I play this game. I expected more than you all or anybody expected out of me. I was just trying not to miss my pitch and not think too much. When you're struggling, you tend to think too much and change stuff. I just tried to be my old self."
The Rays (59-57) snapped a two-game losing streak, moving to within seven games of the American League East-leading Red Sox and to within 2 1/2 games of the Wild Card-leading Yankees, who lost to the Blue Jays. The Rays also moved into a tie with the Mariners for the second AL Wild Card spot after Seattle lost to the Angels. The Indians (60-52) remain in first place in the AL Central.
Adeiny Hechavarria started the winning rally when he singled off Nick Goody with one out in the eighth. He stole second and moved to third on the play when catcher Yan Gomes threw wildly into center field. After Mallex Smith twice couldn't get down a suicide squeeze and struck out for the second out, Goody hit Jesus Sucre to bring Dickerson to the plate.
Dickerson hit the first pitch he saw from Goody a projected 417 feet over the center-field wall, according to Statcast™.
"We needed it, he needed it," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Any time you are going through a funk like that, to have such a huge impact on the game is pretty special."
Bradley Zimmer said he experienced a moment of uncertainty on whether he had snagged Dickerson's homer, as the center fielder was running at a high speed before he crashed into the wall.
"I jumped and just reached at the last second," Zimmer said. "It felt like I had it, but I came up just a little short."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Snapping an 0-for-31 streak: The Rays were in the midst of an 0-for-31 stretch with runners in scoring position when Morrison stepped to the plate with runners on first and second and no outs in the fifth. Morrison then hit a line-drive single to right-center to score Lucas Duda, tying the game and ending the skid.
Hunter to the rescue:Austin Jackson laced a line drive to left field with one out in the seventh and Dickerson broke for the ball as though he thought he could make the catch. He did not, and the ball got past him, rolling toward the wall. Smith backed up the play, and he couldn't get a handle on the ball initially, with Jackson ending up on third with a triple. Snell was lifted in favor of Hunter, who promptly retired pinch-hitter Jay Bruce on a popout to short before striking out Gomes to end the threat.
"It was outstanding," said Cash. "Tommy's having a pretty remarkable year. He's picked us up multiple times. Whatever we've asked of him, he seems to go out there and do, and give us a chance to get back in the dugout pretty quickly."
"We had a chance to win the game simply because of Blake Snell's performance. It was outstanding." -- Cash
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Rays' bullpen hasn't allowed a run over the team's last seven wins, combining for 23 1/3 scoreless innings in those games.
WHAT'S NEXT Indians:Carlos Carrasco (10-5, 4.06 ERA) tries to end a slump in which he's given up five earned runs in consecutive starts as he takes the ball Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET to face the Rays at Tropicana Field. The veteran righty has a 3.44 ERA on the road this year, the seventh-lowest mark in the AL.
Rays:Jacob Faria (5-2, 2.81 ERA) gets the nod against the Indians in the second game of the four-game series. Six times this season, he has gone six innings or more and yielded one run. The rookie has nine quality starts in his first 11 career starts.