Due to a central time location, and then a two-hour rain delay on top of that, it’s likely that most of you didn’t actually watch Thursday night’s game. I typically try to get weird and semi-existential in my recaps, because I figure most people saw the action, but in this case, I have to take my responsibility to deliver a normal recap more seriously.
That being said, I’m sure in this, the modern era, you all know the score, and many of you have already looked at a box score. So what I’m going to do with this recap (because writing a simple, by-the-numbers recap is something I still refuse to do), is give one nugget per half inning to supplement your quick box score overview. You know Beyond the Box Score, our SBNation sister site, this is Behind the Box Score. So, take a sec to look at some of the numbers from last night, and pull up the play-by-play in another tab because we won’t be going as much in that direction with this recap - this is the behind the scenes look to give you a more complete feel for the game you likely missed last night.
Top 1: Wilson Ramos did indeed get an infield hit. Your computer isn’t lying to you. And it was only partially shift-induced. Really, it was more just a really slow chopper with a deep fielder combination. Rays 0, Twins 0
Bottom 1: Snell’s clutch K there was even more impressive a sequence than the box score shows. He made Jorge Polanco look silly in a big spot. The most interesting part: He did it without throwing a single fastball. In fact, the offspeed pitches were the only thing working for Snell all night. Rays 0, Twins 0
Top 2: Dwayne Staats and Doug Waechter set a little known Guinness World Record here for saying the words “plate discipline” the most times in a one-minute span (during C.J. Cron’s at bat). Rays 0, Twins 0
Bottom 2: Snell hadn’t had to grind that hard since Lil Jon came on at his middle school snowball dance. Even still, the Twins sneak one across. Rays 0, Twins 1
Top 3: Both pitchers looked off after delay, but Kyle Gibson has settled in quicker of the two. This is even more impressive given both Gibson’s track record against the Rays (1-5, 6.81 ERA), as well as the Rays’ track record at Target Field (Rays 21-9 with a +72 run differential since Target Field opened in 2010). Rays 0, Twins 1
Bottom 3: Sure, Snell may have had his worst outing of the season, BUT he struck out Willians Astudillo, which means the outing as a whole was not a loss.
Willians Astudillo just struck out. He fanned 3% of the time in 2300+ minor league plate appearances, which if you're not familiar with strikeout rates, is AMAZING. That's how good Blake Snell is, he actually got Astudillo to K.— Paul Sporer (@sporer) July 13, 2018
Rays 0, Twins 3
Top 4: Bauers continues to look excellent. He had a solid opposite field hit in the first, and he’s just continuing to show he’s beyond his years at the dish. He made it 2-for-2 with one of the prettiest gap doubles you’ll see in the fourth (and collected a third hit in the ninth), eventually getting stranded after Ji-Man Choi couldn’t make the most of the RISP less than two out opportunity, getting jammed by Gibson for an infield pop out. Just one of many examples on the night of Gibson executing exactly what he was trying to do.
Rays 0, Twins 3
Bottom 4: Carlos Gomez hosted the first team dinner of the season Wednesday night, picking up the whole tab. Nice move from the vet. (In actual game play: Snell did indeed look as his line would suggest. It’s also one start, and one in which he had to deal with a two-hour rain delay. And now there’s the built-in reset of the All-Star Break. All things considered, it could’ve been a lot worse.) Rays 0, Twins 3
Top 5: I finally nabbed the mosquito that had been circling the glow of my computer screen for the last three innings. Rays 0, Twins 3
Bottom 5: KK with an outstanding catch to rob Brian Dozier on that one-out fly out. Over his last six games, he has seven hits, four runs, three RBI, a homer and a steal, and his defense has been back to what we expect. Rays 0, Twins 3
Top 6: The Rays bats stayed quiet, as you can tell, so let’s circle back to Snell for a second. Coming into Thursday’s game, Snell had by far the lowest batting average allowed with runners in scoring position. Among qualified starters, no pitcher was even within a standard deviation of Snell (.057). Second was Jacob deGrom at .118. Of course, Snell allowed back-to-back doubles with men in scoring position Thursday night, and he’s going to be bound for some regression on that front as the season goes on. Rays 0, Twins 3
Bottom 6: Chih-Wei Hu looked a little off when he first came in, but he settled into a groove really quickly, retiring the first eight batters he faced before a D-Rob error. He got ahead 0-1 to seven of those eight, and only made one really bad pitch on his evening as a whole (but that’s still to come!) Rays 0, Twins 3
Top 7: Now there are two mosquitoes circling my computer. Recapping in the dark is not fun. Rays 0, Twins 3
Bottom 7: Bauers showed his first little sign of “oh wait, this is not my natural position” in left field on Mauer’s leadoff single. That being said, it’s been incredibly impressive what many of the Rays have been able to do when Cash has asked them to play out of position this year. Just another mark in the “What Cash has done right” scorebook this season.
Rays 0, Twins 5
Top 8: The Twins left Gibson in the game despite 103 pitches through seven innings. First pitch of the eighth: Adeiny Hechavarria double. When will managers learn? Apparently manager stupidity is the only way the Rays were going to score tonight. Rays 1, Twins 5
Bottom 8: Staats just pronounced Mbappe as “Mmm-bobba,” and Waechter said the best part of the World Cup has been the penalty kicks. Stick to baseball, gents. Rays 1, Twins 5
Top 9: Full disclosure — this was the fastest way for me to write a recap, and since it is currently 1:02 a.m. east coast time, that was a major factor in my decision making process. (The Rays did get the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but honestly: it never really felt like their night.)
There are now five mosquitoes circling me. Tonight was the type of night you’re glad there are 161 other games in the season to help this one fade into the ether. Rays 1, Twins 5