SAN DIEGO – Kevin Kiermaier and the Tampa Bay Rays — with big assists from two former Padres who know Petco Park's outfield well — are one win from the second World Series berth in franchise history.
Joey Wendle hit a go-ahead, two-run single two batters after another critical error by José Altuve, and the Rays beat the Houston Astros 5-2 on Tuesday night for a 3-0 lead in the AL Championship Series.
Kiermaier, a three-time Gold Glove winner in center field, saved multiple runs for the Rays with two outstanding catches before leaving with a hand injury. Hunter Renfroe, acquired from the San Diego Padres last December, made a pair of terrific grabs in right.
“We’ve played just tremendous defense all season long,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “It’s a credit to the guys how hard they work at it.”
Towering righty Tyler Glasnow, who grew up just north of Los Angeles, will try to complete the series sweep and deliver the Rays their first pennant in 12 years Wednesday night when he opposes Zack Greinke in Game 4.
Kiermaier, the longest-tenured Tampa Bay player, said it was “an amazing feeling” to be so close to going to the Fall Classic.
“I knew that this group would be capable of getting to this point. I had no doubt in my mind,” the 30-year-old Kiermaier said, praising everyone from the front office to the coaches to the players. “This is what it’s all about. I’m so proud to be a part of this and have so much fun with these guys.”
Tampa Bay reached the World Series in 2008 but lost to the Philadelphia Phillies.