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Brad Miller’s 3-run home run lifts Rays past Kansas City

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Brad Miller found his new position Thursday afternoon. It’s called “crossing the plate.”

Miller, whose shortstop position will be lost to newly acquired Matt Duffy, nonetheless continued his hot hitting. His three-run homer in the eighth inning pulled out a 3-2 victory for the Tampa Bay Rays over Kansas City.

Miller now has four homers in his last six games, including a career-high 19 for the year. His home run came on a 1-1 pitch with Logan Forsythe (who had singled) and Kevin Kiermaier (who had walked). The Rays are now 3-48 when trailing after seven innings.

“He’s a pro,” said manager Kevin Cash. “We’re lucky to have him and it doesn’t matter where he plays, we know his bat plays, and he’s a huge part of our plans and our team going forward. …We do have a lot of confidence and we were very optimistic about his bat and his overall play, and we’ve seen that.”

The Rays had only one hit entering the eighth inning before saving the game.

“I don’t want to set limits on myself,” Miller said. “I know this game is about consistency. I think the last couple years I have been able to show spurts of stuff, but I want to be able to keep it going the whole year. That’s what Longo and Forsythe and guys that are big cogs in lineups do. They never let up. I’m just excited that I’m driving the ball and I’m going to continue to try to be consistent with it.”

Drew Smyly got the win for the Rays, throwing seven innings of two-run baseball and allowing only five hits.

“All my pitches were on,” Smyly said. “I was locating them well and mixing them in and out, throwing a lot of strikes. I mean, I probably threw more pitches over the plate than just that one that got hit. That’s baseball. I’m sure Ian Kennedy would say the same, but we didn’t take advantage when he was on the mound. It’s a tough sport. It’s hard. You’ve just got to continue to believe and trust your stuff.”

Said Kansas City manager Ned Yost: “I thought Smyly did a good job of keeping us off-balance. He was mixing curveballs, changeups and cutters. Pop a 93-mph fastball in there. He was hitting the throttle and taking it off. We could never get on him.”

The Rays play against Minnesota today. Blake Snell pitches against Ervin Santana.

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Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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