Minneapolis — For the third consecutive day, the Rays fell behind early. In the bottom of the second inning, Max Kepler rapped a solo shot to right field off starter Chris Archer to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. The Rays, who hadn’t led at all in the series at the time, had to play catch up again.
They started with a sharp single to center by Matt Duffy in the top of the fourth inning, followed by a walk by rookie Jake Bauers, and Ramos double to deep right center scoring the two on base. Berrios was able to retire Choi and Wendle the next two batters, then Carlos Gomez laced a rbi-double down the third base line making it 3-1 Rays. The next at-bat, Twins CF Jake Cave stumbled on his way out to a Mallex Smith shot to center and couldn’t regroup in time to make the catch, scoring Gomez from second and giving the Rays a 4-1 lead.
That gave Chris Archer a fairly nice cushion to work with, who’s arm must have been feeling good, heating his fastball up to 97mph and changeup to 91mph. The Twins made it tough on Archer all day, who, after a multitude of long pitch counts, left the game after 4 1⁄3 innings on 93 pitches. Archer gave credit to the Twins for fighting off a multitude of tough pitches:
“Not frustrating, but it can be a little taxing”, Archer said of the Twins ability to work long counts. “Especially when it’s hot and humid like it was today. You have to tip your hat to them but also continue to stay positive and execute at a high level.”
He would be replaced by Diego Castillo, who let up an unearned run via an infield single by Eduardo Escobar. 4-2, Twins lead.
The Rays went quietly in the 6th. The Twins, on the other hand, did not.
With Adam Kolarek pitching and one out, Minnesota railed off three consecutive singles to load the bases. Mauer was able to plate one of those runs on a fielder’s choice, then Eddie Rosario laced a 2-out rbi double to left center scoring Robbie Grossman and Joe Mauer. After an intentional walk to Brian Dozier, Escobar singled to left, scoring Rosario from third. Ugly, ugly inning for Kolarek and the Rays. Twins lead 6-4.
Then the Rays exploded
Rattling off four straight hits to start the 6th, the Baby Rays tied the ballgame at 6 apiece. Jesus Sucre, who replaced Wilson Ramos due to left hamstring tightness, hit a sac fly a few batters later to give the Rays back the lead. With Bauers still at second, the Twins decided to intentionally walk Cron with two outs to get to Joey Wendle.
On a 1-1 count, Wendle ripped a two-run triple to deep right center, scoring Bauers and Cron. Rays lead 9-6.
Kevin Cash turned to Jaime Schultz in the 7th, who looked good en route to a scoreless inning.
Then, the Rays scored some more. Five more, to be exact, enough to get Twins fans heading for the exits. I’ll bullet point how they did it because 14 runs is a lot and I’m running out of scoring verbs.
- Mallex singled to center
- Heck singled to left
- KK reached on a bunt single
- Duffy struck out swinging, 1 out
- Bauers doubled to deep right, scoring Mallex and Hech. 11-6.
- Sucre grounded out to Hech, scoring KK. 12-6.
- Cron blasts 19th dinger to left center, scoring Bauers. 14-6.
10 runs in two innings. That’ll do, donkey. That’ll do.
Jaime Schultz went on to work a perfect 8th, capping an impressive two-inning performance for the rookie.
Now, more bullet points for the ninth:
- Twins put catcher Willians Astudillo on the hill
- Gomez blasts home run off him and bat flips as well...off a position player. 15-6.
- Kiermaier RBI-groundout. 16-6.
- Robertson rbi-single. 17-6.
- Bauers 2-run bomb. 19-6.
If you’re counting, that’s five runs in three consecutive innings — the first time the Rays have done that in franchise history.
“We just kind of took off”, Cash said after the game. “I’m not sure what clicked, but everybody just kept piecing it together and getting big hit after big hit. When you go down by two, it’s very easy for a team to cave right there and we didn’t.”
Schultz retired two of the first three batters in the ninth. Sergio Romo got the final out. Nonetheless, it was a fine performance from Schultz, who earned the first win of his young career going 2.2 innings punching out three.
“I wasn’t really expecting to go in anytime soon”, said Schultz postgame. “I was kind of a little disappointed that I didn’t finish it out and get the save but it feels great to get the win.”
Overall, what an odd afternoon. The first half of this game seemed like one the Twins were just about to break open, but instead, the Rays were the ones to blow it open.
- Cash said Ramos is unlikely to play in the All-Star game after experiencing left hamstring tightness today. Huge bummer for Ramos, who was looking forward to playing in front of Nationals fans again.
- Matt Duffy’s ankle appears to be fine. Cash said he will be in the lineup tomorrow.
- The 19 runs scored is a season-high for the Rays
- Ten Rays had at least 1 RBI
- Seven Rays had at least two hits