Win Probability table courtesy of Fan Graphs.
St. Petersburg-The bad news is the Rays were blown out by the Minnesota Twins 9-1 in the first match up of their six game home stand. Twins starter Sidney Ponson pitched seven strong innings of work, and the Rays were held to just five hits on the day, with their lone run coming on a Delmon Young solo shot. Edwin Jackson retired just four batters and gave up the first six runs of the night, falling to 0-4 on the year, and the Rays used all but one of their available relief pitchers in mop-up duty. So in all of this, what you ask is the good news? The good news is that a season-low crowd of 8,773 witnessed such a debacle.
The Twins got their scoring started early against Jackson, as Minnesota 2B Luis Castillo led off with a single to begin the top of the first. 3B Nick Punto doubled him over to third, and the two runners were brought home on a sacrifice groundout and a sac fly by C Joe Mauer and RF Michael Cuddyer, respectively. Minnesota really burst the game open in the second inning off of Jackson when he walked the first two batters he saw in the frame. He didn’t help himself out when Twins DH Jason Tyner (yes, DH), a former Ray, launched an infield groundball that Jackson fielded. Jackson then threw past 1B Carlos Peña in an attempt to gun down the speedy Tyner, and the errant throw allowed both CF Torii Hunter and LF Jason Kubel to score, with Tyner advancing all the way to third. Tyner would later come home on a ground out. The comedy of errors that inning continued unabated, however, as Rays 2B B.J. Upton committed his seventh error of the year attempting to field a force attempt on Luis Castillo at second. Castillo, who had singled to get aboard and put runners at the corners, was called safe at the bag and that allowed Nick Punto to get aboard safely. Joe Mauer singled to load the bases, and it was curtains for Edwin Jackson, who was relieved by Ruddy Lugo. Jackson lasted just 1.1 innings of work, giving up six runs (four earned) on five hits and two walks. Lugo would allow the final run of the inning to score when Michael Cuddyer beat out a double play ball, but he ended up getting Justin Morneau out to end the inning and did force both batters he faced in the frame into outs. Ultimately, all six Minnesota runs in the first two frames were driven in on plays in which the batter either committed an out, or reached base on an error.
The Rays would get their lone run of the ballgame in the bottom of the second, when RF Delmon Young smacked the second pitch he saw from Twins starter Sidney Ponson well over the left-center field wall to cut the deficit to five. He also walked later in the ballgame, his second base on balls in four games and his fourth of the year. 2B B.J. Upton, despite the error, continued his torrid offensive production as of late, recording two of Tampa Bay’s five hits and also walking once. DH Elijah Dukes, remaining at the top of the order in the two hole, was hitless but also walked twice and was hit by a pitch. Other than that though, the Twins’ pitching effort as led by Ponson was nearly perfect Tuesday evening. The former Oriole ended up going seven innings of work, giving up the lone run on five hits and two walks, while striking out five. Matt Guerrier and Juan Rincon pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth, respectively, to close out the ballgame for the Twins, though Rincon did have to retire SS Brendan Harris for the final out of the game with two runners in scoring position.
On the other end of the spectrum though, the results were just as bad and had the potential to be far worse. Minnesota pounded out 17 hits on the day and five members of their lineup had multiple hits. They scored garbage time runs in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings off of Rays relief pitching to give them nine runs for the ballgame, though with 14 left on base it could have been far worse. Ruddy Lugo and Jae Kuk Ryu briefly held the Twins at bay, with Lugo finishing off the second and pitching a scoreless third, though he did walk two batters. Ryu pitched three innings of work for Tampa Bay, albeit shaky ones, hitting two batters with pitches and giving up four hits. Juan Salas and Shawn Camp each gave up an earned run in their respective innings of work in the seventh and eighth, while Brian Stokes allowed a run on four hits in 0.2 innings of work in the ninth before being relieved by Gary Glover, who got the final out to close the book on the Twins’ offensive field day. Ponson meanwhile earned his second win of the year, both of which have come against Tampa Bay, and staved off the possibility of losing his role in the starting rotation for at least another start. He has a 2.19 ERA in 12.1 innings of work against the Rays this season, whereas he has a 10.13 ERA against every other team he has faced.
MIN: RH Sidney Ponson
RAYS: RH Jae Kuk Ryu