ST. PETERSBURG — His name is Isaac Paredes. That’s eez-AHK puh-RAY-dehs. Also pronounced: Clutch.
With the Rays down to their last strike Saturday afternoon, Paredes delivered a two-run single to defeat the Pirates, 6-5, at Tropicana Field and produce the team’s second consecutive walk-off victory.
It was the final bit of drama in Paredes’ five-homer week — he hit three in Tuesday’s win against the Yankees — and more evidence that his value goes far beyond what was perceived during his acquisition from the Tigers in the trade that involved former All-Star Austin Meadows.
“Right now, he’s the greatest,’’ said Rays reliever Ralph Garza Jr., who picked up the victory after pitching two shutout innings and keeping the Pirates within striking range. “He’s seeing beach balls up there. He’s locked in a zone. I don’t want to do anything to get him out of his zone.’’
Neither does Rays manager Kevin Cash.
“I didn’t know anything about him [at the time of the trade],’’ Cash said. “You trust our guys [in the front office]. They are difficult decisions at the time. We traded a good player [Meadows]. We certainly feel like we got a good player back. We’ve seen a young player with a lot of confidence who fits well into our mix of lineups.
“He has had a couple of special games here, and he’s picking us up in a big way. He’s fun to watch. He’s obviously seeing the ball well. … He [did] what we saw of him when we acquired him, a guy who was willing to shoot the ball the other way late in counts. He did that and picked us up in a big way.’’
“Try not to think too much and just try to put the ball in play somehow,’’ Paredes said through team interpreter Manny Navarro. “I feel good. Thank God that…