Home runs have been the name of the game for the Rays season thus far, and Sunday was no exception. The red hot bats for Logan Morrison and Evan Longoria continued to be just that as each of them sported a two-homer game in Minnesota. The New Bash Brothers, alone, were responsible for six of the seven runs scored on the day.
A few notable exceptions aside, the story of Tampa Bay's starting pitching this season has been short, shaky outings. Drew Smyly continued that trend, giving up four runs, seven hits (two of them back to back homers) and three walks over just five innings.
LoMo launched his first one, a solo shot, to tie the game 1-1 in the top of the 2nd. He lifted an 88 mph 1-0 offering way, way out over the right field wall. In unrelated(?) news, maligned hitting coach Derek Shelton was also ejected this inning for arguing balls and strikes.
LoMo hit another dinger in the 4th, a two-run shot that also brought home Evan Longoria, to chip away at a three-run lead that Smyly allowed via back to back home runs and a triple by Park, Grossman and Buxton the inning prior. 4-3 Twins. Hank Conger made an excellent grab in the bottom of this frame, as he basically dove down the dugout steps to catch a foul ball off the bat of Byung Ho Park for the out.
Longo couldn't allow LoMo to hog the power bat spotlight, as he proceeded to hit two solo shots of his own, homering in the 6th and 8th innings to put the Rays up 5-4.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Xavier Cedeno promptly gave up a solo homer to Eduardo Nunez to even the score again at five runs apiece.
In the top of the 9th, Steven Souza Jr got ahold of one, knocking a liner to center field that Buxton had trouble with. Souza hustled past second base and made it all the way to third with no outs. All the Rays needed now was a fly ball. With Alex Colome the likely recipient of the baseball with the lead in the bottom of the 9th, we just needed that one fly ball... and it was excruciating waiting for it.
Kevin Jepsen was anything but sharp. Curt Casali clearly knew it and opted to walk instead of playing hero ball. After a lengthy but ultimately unproductive at-bat from Tim Beckham that ended with a strike out, the newly re-called Nick Franklin held the next bat with a chance to take the lead. He would walk as well to load the bases.
Brad Miller would be the guy. Right? Right?! Yes. Brad Miller was the guy. He lifted a fly ball to left field that did the trick, allowing Souza Jr to score and put the Rays up 6-5. Longo also tacked on an insurance run with a single that scored Casali to give us our final tally of 7-5 Rays.
Alex Colome quickly laid waste to the Twins hitters in the bottom of the 9th, and locked down Tampa Bay's 25th win on the season. Unfortunately, there are also 30 losses on that balance sheet, which is why the Rays currently sit seven games behind Baltimore and Boston in the AL East and 5.5 games out of an American League Wild Card spot.
The Rays will hop on a plane to Phoenix next, as Chris Archer will take the mound against Robbie Ray on Monday night.