Gimme Five: Rays Sweep Royals For Fifth Straight Win

posted by Steve Carney - 

Sweeeeeep!

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ST. PETERSBURG (620 WDAE) -- The Tampa Bay Rays swept a four-game series for the first time in nearly five years, as Kevin Kiermaier's fielder's choice in the bottom of the ninth scored Jake Bauers with the winning run, giving the Rays a 4-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals Thursday at Tropicana Field.

Kansas City took an early lead off Rays starter Tyler Glasnow, as Alex Gordon doubled, stole third base, and scored on a two-out single by Lucas Duda.

The lead didn't last, as the Rays struck for a pair of runs off Danny Duffy in the home half of the third.  Singles by Matt Duffy, Jake Bauers and C.J. Cron loaded the bases with one out, and Joey Wendle's sacrifice fly tied the game and a base hit by Willy Adames broke the tie.

The Royals jumped back in front in the fifth, as Glasnow walked Alcides Escobar with one out, then allowed a single to Whit Merrifield to move Escobar into scoring position, and Gordon singled in Escobar to tie the game, while Salvadaor Perez's sacrifice fly gave Kansas City a 3-2 lead.

Tampa Bay tied the game in the seventh off reliever Kevin McCarthy, when Cron's ground ball was thrown into the camera well by Merrifield for an error, allowing Duffy to score.  Tim Hill walked Wendle and Jake Newberry walked Adames to load the bases, but Kiermaier grounded into what ended up being a 4-6-3 double play after umpires ruled Adames violated the slide rule at second base, ending the inning.

Tampa Bay got the go-ahead run into scoring position in the eighth when Mallex Smith doubled with two out, but could not push him across.

The bottom of the ninth started with a walk by Brian Flynn to Bauers, and Cron's broken bat single moved him to third base.  Wendle grounded out to third base, moving Cron into scoring position, and Adames was intentionally walked to load the bases for Kiermaier, who worked the count full before grounding to Ryan O'Hearn, who one-hopped a throw to the plate and allowed Bauers to score the game-winning run.

Sergio Romo (3-3) earned the win with a perfect top of the ninth inning.

The win gets Tampa Bay to a season-best six games over .500, and gives the Rays not only their first four-game sweep since September 20-23 against Baltimore, but also their first season series sweep of an American League opponent in franchise history, having gone 7-0 this year against Kansas City.

FRIDAY'S MATCHUP

Tampa Bay Rays (67-61) vs. Boston Red Sox (90-39), 7:10 p.m. first pitch, with coverage on WDAE beginning at 6:30.

Rays starter - RHP Diego Castillo (3-2, 3.47 ERA)

Red Sox starter - RHP Hector Velazquez (7-1, 2.74 ERA)

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