ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Kevin Kiermaier hit Pablo López’s first pitch for an inside-the-park home run and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Miami Marlins 4-0 on Tuesday night.
Harold Ramirez and Ji-Man Choi also homered off López, who had given up only two home runs in eight preceding starts.
Shane McClanahan (4-2) pitched six innings for the Rays, striking out nine.
Kiermaier hit a line drive that center fielder Jesús Sánchez dove forward to attempt to catch. The ball skipped past Sánchez and rolled to the wall as Kiermaier circled the bases, scoring when catcher Jacob Stallings couldn’t control the relay throw in time.
“It’s a fun way to start off the game,” Kiermaier said. “You never know what to expect in a baseball game, and the first pitch of the game for us is an inside-the-parker. And since we have the best pitcher in the league, that’s all we needed. One run.”
It was the sixth homer of the year for Kiermaier, who is 13 for 24 with three homers in five straight multi-hit games.
“I went nuts,” said McClanahan, who scattered four singles and regained the major league lead in strikeouts (74). “Usually I’m a little more reserved but I found myself jumping around. He’s our leader for a reason. He sets the tone and we just follow.”
Ramirez hit his first home run since June 21 with Cleveland. Choi’s two-run shot in the sixth was his third of the season.
The Marlins’ best chance to score off McClanahan came in the sixth, when Garrett Cooper and Jesús Aguilar led off with singles. After a double play, McClanahan threw a wild pitch that bounced back into fair territory, causing Cooper to change his mind about trying to score from third. When McClanahan slipped and fell, however, Cooper tried again to score, but third baseman Isaac Paredes threw him out.
“That was a weird one,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.
Lopez (4-2), who came into the game with a National League-best 1.57 ERA, gave up four runs on nine hits in seven innings, striking out eight.
Cooper, leading off for the first time in his career, and Stallings each had two hits for the Marlins, who have lost four of five.
“We didn’t give ourselves a ton of chances but in general, the guy (McClanahan) was just better than us tonight,” Mattingly said.
Marlins: OF Jazz Chisolm (tight left hamstring) will probably be back in the lineup Wednesday. … Ex-Rays IF Joey Wendle, who has been out two weeks with a sore right hamstring, has been running at 100% for a few days, according to Mattingly.
Rays: OF Manuel Margot (strained right hamstring) will probably be activated Wednesday. … IF Yandy Diáz’s shoulder is still sore, but manager Kevin Cash said Diáz will probably be back in the the lineup Wednesday.. . . RHP Andrew Kittredge (lower back tightness) is out indefinitely. “We kind of shut him down from too much activity so we won’t have a good sense (of when he will be re-activated) until he ramps back up,” Cash said.
CLEVER SET UP?
McClanahan insisted that his awkward fall to the turf while trying to cover home plate in the sixth inning was all part of the plan.
“You can’t prove me wrong,” he joked. “I’ve been told not to touch the ball unless you absolutely have to.”
RHP Cody Poteet (0-0, 0.78) will get his second start of the season for the Marlins against RHP Drew Rasmussen (4-1, 2.33). Rasmussen is 4-0 with a 1.01 ERA in his last five starts.