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Undermanned Rays lack firepower vs. Marlins

Hechavarria exits; Kiermaier, Duffy unavailable Saturday

By Bill Chastain / MLB.com

Saturday, July 21, 2018 10:58 PM ET

ST. PETERSBURG -- Playing with a short roster, the Rays absorbed a 3-2 loss to the Marlins on Saturday night at Tropicana Field.

Tampa Bay -- which entered the All-Star break on a 14-1 run at Tropicana Field -- has lost two games at home since returning, and its third straight loss overall.

"It's disappointing, because I know the effort level is there," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We're just not piecing together any hits. And they're frustrated. We've been pitched pretty good. But I know our offense is better than that. We put pressure on pitchers, and we haven't done that [the past two games] with the exception of the ninth inning [Friday night]."

Video: MIA@TB: Cash on battling back, but falling short

Kevin Kiermaier (right foot soreness) and Matt Duffy (back spasms) were not available Saturday night, which prompted a roster move to recall Justin Williams from Triple-A Durham. The Rays then showed a really different look when they lost Adeiny Hechavarria. Hechavarria, who made a great play an inning early, had to leave the game in the seventh inning due to left oblique soreness. The left-handed-hitting Williams pinch-hit for Hechavarria -- against a left-hander -- and came in to play right field.

Video: MIA@TB: Hechavarria makes nice stop and throw

With the short bench, Cash had to shuffle the deck, making a series of position changes that resulted in veteran Carlos Gomez moving from right field to second base. Gomez's only Major League experience at second base came when he played the position for Milwaukee on April 10, 2015, after Scooter Gennett got ejected and the Brewers did not have any other infielders on the bench.

"I'm ready. Like I tell my manager, in any position I'll be available to play," Gomez said.

Disproving an old baseball adage, the ball did not find Gomez during his two innings at second.

Cash said that prior to the game he'd discussed with Gomez the possibility of playing the infield, noting that Gomez is constantly taking ground balls during pregame activities. As for the ball not finding his second baseman, Cash wasn't surprised.

"I'm confident he would have caught it." Cash said.

In the fourth, Martin Prado doubled off Ryan Yarbrough to drive home a run and Miguel Rojas grounded out to drive home another to put the Marlins up 2-0. Joey Wendle answered for the Rays in the bottom half of the inning when he homered to center off Pablo Lopez, who had retired the first nine hitters of the game.

Cameron Maybin homered to left-center field off Hunter Wood in the seventh to give the Marlins a 3-1 lead.

Ji-Man Choi hit his first home run with the Rays and his third home run of the season, snapping an 0-for-13 drought. The estimated distance was 460 feet, according to Statcast™, the longest by a Rays player since Evan Longoria on July 19, 2016, at Colorado (462 feet) and the longest by a Rays hitter at Tropicana Field since Statcast™ began tracking.

Video: MIA@TB: Choi slugs a 460-foot home run

Yarbrough took the loss, falling to 8-5 overall and 6-3 with a 3.09 ERA in 20 relief appearances. He leads the Major Leagues with 70 innings pitched out of the bullpen. His outing was the 32nd by Rays relievers this season of at least 50 pitches, most in the Major Leagues, and extended the club record for a single season.

"No, I don't think so. It wasn't that painful to cause that. We'll see what happens the next couple of days." -- Hechavarria, when asked if he will go on the DL

Chris Archer will start Sunday when the Rays host the Marlins in a 1:10 p.m. ET contest at Tropicana Field. Archer is 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA at home this season. In two July starts, he is 0-0 with a 4.70 ERA. Right-hander Trevor Richards will start for the Marlins.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.