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Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier says stats don’t matter, winning does

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Tampa Bay Times
Tampa Bay Times
 2021-06-01
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The Rays' Kevin Kiermaier at bat during the sixth inning of Monday's game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in New York. [ ADAM HUNGER | AP ]

NEW YORK — After getting the hits that led to two runs in the Rays’ 3-1 win over the Yankees Monday, Kevin Kiermaier was asked about the quiet stretch he’d been going through offensively, with just two hits in his previous 26 at-bats.

“That’s putting that very politely, thank you,” Kiermaier said. “Hitting has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to work on in my life. You just sit here and try to make those right adjustments in the cage. Day in, day out, I’ve been working my butt off in there just trying to find a comfort level.

“I was really happy with my work (Monday). I was happy with my first at-bat, second at-bat. Little things like that really build confidence for me going forward where I’m not thinking so much about my setup or what I’m trying to do up there. This game will drive you crazy, we allow that at times. But I’m trying to be better, trying to contribute more.”

Though Kiermaier is hitting just .213 with a .551 OPS and has been sidelined twice by injuries, he provides premium defense in centerfield and leadership in the clubhouse. And, he said, helping the Rays to what is now a majors-best 35-20 record is what’s most important to him.

“I’ve never cared about stats or anything like that, and I promise you that’s the way I was dating back to Double-A,” he said. “It’s not about me, it’s not about any individual. There’s some tough times when you struggle, don’t get me wrong. But I always try to keep a positive attitude. And if we’re winning, I could care less, to be honest. Trust me, I want to contribute as much as I can. But I never want to be that selfish guy or dwell on my struggles.”

Numbers of the day

22-6, .786

Rays record and winning percentage for May, marking the second-best for any month in franchise history (21-5, .808, in July 2013), and best-ever May.

Streaking

The Rays have:

• Won five straight games, 16 of their last 17, 22 of 27 and 30 of 42

• Won nine straight games over AL East division opponents, the longest such run in franchise history

• Won nine straight road games, the longest such streak in the majors this season and matching their franchise best, and are 13-2 in their last 15 and a majors-best 20-7 overall

• Won nine of their last 10 games at Yankee Stadium and 20 of 27 against the Yankees overall, including the five-game 2020 American League Division Series

• Not trailed in their last five games, leading after 37 of 46 innings

• Outscored opponents 119-54 (plus 65) over the 16-1 run

Miscellany

• This is the first time the Rays have the best record in the majors past the 50-game mark of a season since Sept. 28, 2010.

• The cut on his right middle finger healed, right-hander Luis Patino was sent to Triple-A Durham to get regular duty and work in between his outings as a starter.

• Reliever Chaz Roe, who made one April 2 appearance before being sidelined by a shoulder strain, on Tuesday will begin a rehab assignment of up to 30 days with Durham.

• Outfielder/DH Austin Meadows hit his third homer in his last four games and his team-high-matching 12th overall and has reached base in 11 of his last 16 plate appearances. He finished May with 28 RBIs.

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