ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays opened their final homestand of the season Thursday night with a 5-2 win over Detroit at Tropicana Field.
The win reduced the Rays’ magic number to eight. They lead the Red Sox and Blue Jays, both of which were idle, by 8.5 games. They increased their lead over the Yankees, who lost in 10 innings at Baltimore, to nine games.
The Rays scored twice in the first when Yandy Diaz led off with a 438-foot home run to center on the first pitch and Manuel Margot scored on a sacrifice fly by Randy Arozarena.
After Louis Head opened and blanked the Tigers in his lone inning of work, Dietrich Enns (2-0) threw four innings and allowed only a fifth-inning home run to Niko Goodrum to pick up the win.
“Good to see him pick up where he left off,” manager Kevin Cash said, referring to four no-hit innings Enns threw in his last outing at Detroit last Saturday. “He creates some challenging at-bats and awkward swings.”
Enns helped himself when he closed out the second and third innings by picking off Niko Goodrum and Derek Hill, respectively.
J.P. Feyereisen, Pete Fairbanks, Adam Conley and JT Chargois each followed with an inning.
Margot’s RBI single in the fifth, in which Kevin Kiermaier scored from second on a ball that did not leave the infield, gave the Rays a 3-1 lead. Kiermaier moved from second to third on Margot’s grounder in the hole that Goodrum, at short, made a nice play on. Kiermaier kept coming around on Goodrum’s throw to first, which Jonathan Schoop could not handle.
“It was a hustle play and an awareness play,” said Cash. “KK’s speed allows him to do something like that.”
An inning later, Mike Zunino’s two-run home run, his 31st of the season, put the home team ahead 5-1.
Nelson Cruz left after his third at-bat with a right forearm contusion. He was hit by a Tyler Alexander (2-3) pitch in the first inning. X-rays were negative.
“He will get some treatment on it and see how he feels,” said Cash. “He got it on the forearm and the muscle kind of grabbed him and tightened up as the game went on.”
The series resumes Friday night when Luis Patino (4-3, 4.62) is opposed by Casey Mize (7-8, 3.66).