10/1/2013 8:10 P.M. ET
Kiermaier makes whirlwind tour to MLB debut
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- It was quite the whirlwind for Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier.
Kiermaier went from relaxing at his apartment in Port Charlotte, Fla., on Sunday to being called up from Triple-A Durham as an extra outfielder for Monday's Game 163 against the Rangers in Arlington.
He was rewarded by making his Major League debut in the ninth inning as a defensive replacement in Tampa Bay's 5-2 win to advance to Wednesday night's American League Wild Card Game against the Indians at 8 p.m. ET on TBS.
It was a rare occurrence, as he became the first player to make his Major League debut in a single-game tiebreaker. He also became just the second player to make a debut in his club's 163rd game or later, joining the Yankees' Elvio Jimenez, who played in his first big league game in New York's 164th game of the 1964 season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"There's not a whole lot of guys who made their debut in a Game 163 so to be able to do that, it was just a crazy day," Kiermaier said. "I really can't thank these guys enough for bringing me up here to be a part of this. It's so much fun. We'll see what happens the rest of the way."
Kiermaier isn't likely to be added to Tampa Bay's postseason roster, but he impressed the organization with his play in the Minor Leagues, especially defensively. The 23-year-old also hit a combined .295/.362/.431 with 42 extra-base hits and 21 stolen bases in 136 games between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham.
He said he was told before Monday's game he'd likely see action with center fielder Desmond Jennings dealing with a tight left hamstring so it helped him calm his nerves when he finally saw action.
"I knew it was my role so I expected to come in at some point," Kiermaier said. "But to come in up three in the ninth was good because I wasn't that nervous. The pressure was all on them. With the way Price was throwing, I wasn't surprised nothing was hit my way. But it was a great MLB debut with those circumstances coming in for the ninth in Game 163."
Jennings expected to play despite hamstring
CLEVELAND -- Rays center fielder Desmond Jennings, who has been dealing with tightness in his left hamstring, is expected to be in the lineup for Wednesday night's American League Wild Card Game against the Indians at 8 p.m. ET on TBS.
Jennings made his return in Monday's 5-2 win against the Rangers in Game 163 after behind held out of the lineup for eight straight days. He went 1-for-3 with a walk before being replaced for defensive purposes in the seventh.
Jennings tested his hamstring on the first pitch of the game, as he hit a broken-bat line drive down the left-field line but was easily thrown out by Craig Gentry as he tried to stretch the hit into a double.
But Rays manager Joe Maddon still liked what he saw from Jennings, and said he anticipates him playing again on Wednesday.
"Desmond is doing really well," Maddon said on Tuesday. "You saw him play last night. The first ball down the line, I don't even know if under normal circumstances it would've been closer, but Gentry made a nice play on it. Overall, I'd say he's about 85 percent. He swung the bat really well last night so he should be fine for tomorrow night."
The Rays, however, did not officially announce their postseason roster, as it's expected to be released at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.
Maddon comfortable with well-rested bullpen
CLEVELAND -- An extra benefit of David Price throwing a complete game in the Rays' 5-2 win over the Rangers on Monday was it gave the bullpen an extra day of rest heading into Wednesday night's American League Wild Card Game against the Indians at 8 p.m. ET on TBS.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said it's a nice feeling not having to worry about overtaxing any of his bullpen arms in a must-win game against the Indians, as his relievers all had a full two days' rest.
"The one thing as a manager you do more than anything on a daily basis is worry about your bullpen," Maddon said. "When I wake up in the morning, I think about the bullpen. When I'm riding my bike, I think about the bullpen. Because that's really the group that's going to get you to the end of the year and win it."
Maddon said the bullpen has been a strength for the Rays this season, as his relievers combined for a solid 3.59 ERA. He also pointed to five relievers he can count on when the team is ahead or tied, labeling them as "even or ahead guys."
There's closer Fernando Rodney (3.38 ERA in 66 2/3 innings), setup man Joel Peralta (3.41 ERA in 71 1/3 innings), right-hander Jamey Wright (3.09 ERA in 70 innings), left-hander Jake McGee (4.03 ERA in 62 2/3 innings) and left-hander Alex Torres (1.71 ERA in 58 innings).
"I have a lot of faith in all these guys," Maddon said. "You talk about Fernando and the wonderful job he always does. And Joel Peralta might be the most unsung relief pitcher in both leagues if you really break down his numbers. Jake McGee what he can do to both sides of the plate. Jamey Wright making it to the playoffs for the very first time, we couldn't have done it without him. And look what Alex Torres has done. So it's five solid even or ahead guys."
• The Rays will be playing their third game in a different city in a four-day span when they take on the Indians at Progressive Field in the American League Wild Card Game on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on TBS. If the Rays win, they'll head to Boston for Games 1 and 2 of the AL Division Series on Friday and Saturday. If they advance to the ALDS, they'll have played in five cities on a road trip dating to Sept. 23.
• The Rays drew seven walks in Game 163 against the Rangers to finish the regular season with the most walks in the Majors with 589, passing the Reds. The Rays have drawn the most walks in baseball dating to 2007.
• Evan Longoria went 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs in Monday's 5-2 win over the Rangers in Game 163, and passed Cardinals legend Stan Musial for the most homers all-time in his team's final game of the season with seven homers in five career games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.