CLEVELAND — Austin Meadows hit an RBI single in the 10th inning to cap Tampa Bay’s comeback in a 5-4 win over the Cleveland Indians on Thursday night, hours after the Rays acquired slugger Nelson Cruz from Minnesota.
Meadows’ one-out liner off Bryan Shaw (3-4) brought home Randy Arozarena, who began the 10th at second base.
Down 4-2 in the ninth, the Rays rallied to tie it against closer James Karinchak on a leadoff homer by Yandy Diaz and Brandon Lowe’s two-out RBI double.
Pete Fairbanks (3-3) pitched the ninth and Diego Castillo struck out Franmil Reyes and Bobby Bradley with the potential tying run at third in the 10th for his 14th save.
The Rays announced their acquisition of Cruz just before the first pitch.
Needing a big bat for the playoff push, Tampa Bay got a potent one from the disappointing Twins.
The Rays sent minor league pitchers Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman to Minnesota for the 41-year-old Cruz and right-hander Calvin Faucher. Cruz has 436 career homers, and his presence alone will re-shape Tampa Bay’s lineup.
Reyes made Tampa Bay pay for a curious strategy by hitting a three-run homer while helping the Indians take a 4-1 lead.
Reyes connected off Luis Patino in the third inning after Rays manager Kevin Cash inexplicably had the right-hander intentionally walk struggling José Ramírez (hitless in his last 11 at-bats) with two outs to face Cleveland’s dangerous DH.
Indians starter Cal Quantrill allowed just one run in six strong innings before turning it over to Cleveland’s bullpen.
In the third, Reyes, who hit a walk-off, three-run homer to beat Kansas City in a similar situation on July 8, lined a 1-2 pitch over the wall in left field for his 17th homer — and sixth in 13 games since being activated from the injured list.
As he rounded third, Reyes defiantly shook his index finger as if to warn the Rays about challenging him.
With two off days coming next week, the Indians sent rookie Eli Morgan back to Triple-A Columbus temporarily and recalled rookie left-hander Sam Hentges to bolster their bullpen.
Morgan pitched well in Wednesday’s win at Houston, allowing three runs and three hits in five innings. The Indians are impressed with the 25-year-old’s development.
“The kid has some guts,” manager Terry Francona said.
Francona and Cash go way back.
Cash played in Boston for Francona and spent two seasons as his bullpen coach in Cleveland before joining the Rays after the 2014 season. Cash recently invited Francona to join him in Denver for the All-Star Game.
On previous visits by the Rays, Francona has played pranks on Cash but not this time.
“I don’t know where I saw it. But they came out with the 30 managers’ career offensive numbers and Cashie was obviously last,” Francona cracked. “But I was next-to-last, and that really bothered me. I’m like, `I’d better ease off the gas a little bit here, because that’s not good company to keep.’”
Rays: All-Star C Mike Zunino (hip) wanted to play, but Cash insisted upon giving him another day’s rest. Zunino will likely be back in the lineup Friday. … Cash said an MRI taken on RHP J.P. Feyereisen (right shoulder discomfort) showed no structural damage. He’s expected back in a few days.
Indians: Francona said RHP Aaron Civale (sprained finger) is expected to throw a bullpen in the next few days. Francona said Civale is still struggling to get full mobility in his finger. … Reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber (shoulder) continues to throw from 60 to 80 feet as he moves along in his recovery, with no exact timetable to return.
Zach Plesac (5-3) starts for the Indians, who will either face one of Tampa Bay’s relievers as an opener or Josh Fleming (7-5).