For now, at least.
Kiermaier continued his mini surge at the plate Monday night against the Cleveland Indians, hitting his second home run in three days and going 2-for-2 with a walk and two runs scored.
The multi-hit evening, Kiermaier’s third in four days, lifted his batting average to .236. That’s still far from acceptable for a player viewed as a franchise cornerstone rewarded with a six-year, $53.5 million contract in March, but it’s 30 points higher than it was a week ago.
When the Rays began a four-game set with the Kansas City Royals, Kiermaier’s average had plummeted to .205 and he’d accumulated just one home run, one triple, three doubles and 14 runs batted in. But over the past eight games, Kiermaier is starting to enjoy the type of success fans expect. He’s hitting .384 (10-for-26) a pair of home runs, five RBI, six runs scored.
It was during the Royals home series when Kiermaier imploded in the field. The 27-year-old committed three errors in four games, including two that resulted in head-scratching inside-the-park homers. Those moments could have been enough to trigger a serious meltdown, but Kiermaier appears to be using it as motivation to turn things around immediately.
Kiermaier’s Monday homer came against Indians right-handed starter Carlos Carrasco, but there was an added impressiveness to Saturday’s long ball – his first since April 20 against the Detroit Tigers. That’s because Kiermaier took Red Sox lefty Chris Sale deep. Sale entered Saturday’s start having surrendered just eight home runs against left-handed batters in 235 previous Major League Baseball appearances. Not only did Kiermaier get to Sale on Saturday, but fellow lefty Logan Morrison sent a ball over the fence in the second inning.