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Kevin Kiermaier Key Part of Tampa Bay Rays Victory

By David Hill
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 24: Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 24: Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) /

Despite a rough day at the plate, Kevin Kiermaier was still a key part in the Tampa Bay Rays 2-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays yesterday.

Usually, if a player is considered to be a key part of a victory, they come through at the plate. Perhaps they hit a key home run, or drive in that winning run. Maybe they get a key walk and find a way around the bases to score the winning run. There are quite a few ways that a player can become a factor in a victory.

That was not the case yesterday for the Tampa Bay Rays Kevin Kiermaier. In their 2-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays, Kiermaier was 0-4 with three strikeouts. That is definitely not the type of performance that typically results in being a key part of a victory. And yet, even with those woes in the batter’s box, Kiermaier made a tremendous difference.

Kiermaier essentially took over the game in the fifth inning. With the Rays clinging to a 1-0 lead, and two runners on, former Ray Steve Pearce hit a ball into the right center gap. Kiermaier sprinted back, and made a running catch at the warning track for the second out, keeping Toronto off the board.

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He was not done flashing the leather in the inning. Toronto loaded the bases, bringing up Justin Smoak. He hit a fly ball to shallow center that fooled Kiermaier, who initially took a step back on the ball. Realizing his error, he sprinted forward, making a diving catch to once again deny the Blue Jays the lead.

With those two plays, Kiermaier showed exactly what the Rays were missing while he was on the disabled list. The two time Gold Glove winner, and the 2015 Platinum Glove winner, is capable of taking over the game with his defense. He certainly proved that yesterday, as he almost singlehandedly kept the Blue Jays off the scoreboard. Even when he is not hitting, Kiermaier can still change a game.

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Kevin Kiermaier helped illustrate his value to the Tampa Bay Rays in the fifth inning yesterday. Without him in the lineup, that victory could have become a loss.