Adeiny Hechavarria sidestepped catcher Salvador Perez, and instinct took over. Right hand, left hand – then straight to the highlight reels.
Hechavarria danced around Perez with an inventive slide at home plate to score the go-ahead run, and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Kansas City Royals 2-1 on Monday night.
Hechavarria ran through third base coach Matt Quatraro’s stop sign on Matt Duffy’s single to right field in the sixth inning, deked to avoid Perez’s lunging tag attempted, then dived back toward the plate. Hechavarria faked toward the dish with his right hand, then jabbed his left hand just past Perez’s outstretched glove to touch the plate. Umpire Rob Drake immediately signaled him safe.
Perez said he expected Hechavarria to jump or slide on a close play. Instead, the backstop ended up diving all over trying to follow Hechavarria’s body.
Rays manager Kevin Cash was not pleased with one aspect of the winning run.
Ryan Yarbrough (3-2) allowed one run over five innings for Tampa Bay, and Duffy had three hits and drove in both runs. Alex Colome worked the ninth for his seventh save in nine opportunities.
Eric Skoglund (1-3) permitted two runs on seven hits, walked none and struck out four in 7 2/3 innings, his longest career outing. He tied a Royals’ record with six assists by a pitcher.
Whit Merrifield had three hits for his seventh multihit game in the past 14 and homered into the Rays’ bullpen to lead off the third.
Yarbrough gave up five hits and picked up his first career victory as a starter. Five Rays relievers held the Royals to one hit over the final four innings.
Jon Jay tripled with one out in the ninth, but Colome struck out Ryan Goins and retired Alex Gordon on a grounder to end the game