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Rays 2, Twins 6: Yonny on the spot

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Chirinos can’t sustain quick start as the Rays die by a thousand paper cuts.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays dropped the third game of this four-game set against the Minnesota Twins 6-2. The loss dropped the Rays to fourteen games over .500, and two games behind the Yankees for first place in the AL East.

The start was promising. Coming off five innings’ worth of a no-hitter, Yonny Chirinos was right back at it in the early going, striking out the side in order in the first. His two-seamer especially looked good, starting in the middle of the plate before running to the edges. The split also showed good depth.

Unfortunately, things went downhill from there. More on that in a second.

The Rays broke out on top in the second. Nate Lowe, just up from Durham and sporting a new caterpillar on his upper lip, singled to right with one out in the second to break up the no-hitter. An out later, Adames hit a dribbler that Schoop ran down in short right field. Instead of just eating it, Schoop made an unnecessary throw to first that eluded Gonzalez, sending Nate Lowe to third. d’Arnaud followed with a hard single to left, scoring Lowe.

Chirinos was finally touched for a hit in the second when Adrianza singled, but Yonny didn’t run into his first real speed bump until the third. Castro led off with a single. Chirinos bounced back to strike out Buxton, but then walked Kepler on four pitches. Then after getting ahead of Polanco, Yonny let an inside fastball get too much plate, and Polanco doubled into the right field corner, tying the game. Gonzalez followed by driving one deep to center. Kiermaier made a leaping attempt at the wall, but was unable to come down with it, allowing Kepler to score and putting runners on second and third. Chirinos came back to coax a pop up out of Rosario, then struck out Sano on a hanging slider to get out of the inning.

The Twins pushed their lead back to 3-1 in the fourth by stringing together three singles, none of which should have been in the passing lane on the Interstate. In the fifth, Marwin Gonzalez made it 4-1 when he hit a cement mixer over the wall in center.

Chirinos retired Schoop to start the sixth before giving way to Hunter Wood. Chirinos’ line for the days was 5.1 innings, 4 runs, 9 hits, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts.

After a long at bat, Hunter Wood retired Castro on a pop to Adames in short center. But Wood hung a 2-2 slider that Buxton drove out to left. 5-1 Twins.

With Wood still pitching in the seventh, the Twins plated another run on an error by Arroyo, a walk, and a dome-scraping fly by Sano that Heredia could not catch at the wall in right. 6-1 Twins.

In the eighth, Wood gave up a double to Castro and a walk to Buxton before giving way to Oliver Drake. Woods’ line: 1.2 innings, 3 hits, 2 run (1 earned), 2 walks and a strikeout. Drake quickly put out the fire, recording two strikeouts and a groundout.

Jose Alvarado got some low leverage work in the ninth to try and iron some things out. He fell behind Rosario 1-0 and gave up a single. He fell behind Sano 3-1, but came back to get the strikeout on a fastball at the top of the zone. He fell behind Adrianza 3-1, but again came back to get the strikeout this time on a nasty slider below the zone. And he got ahead of Schoop 0-1 before retiring him on a soft liner to second. Overall, some baby steps forward for the struggling bullpen ace.

As for the offense, they left a lot to be desired after the quick start.

The Rays left some lettuce in the salad bowl in their half of the third. Brandon Lowe got it started by lining a one-out double into the gap in left center. He moved to third on a Kiermaier line out to center. The Rays then put runners on the corners when Choi reached by taking a slider off his foot. Nate Lowe then walked on six pitches to load the bases for Christian Arroyo. Arroyo couldn’t cash in, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. After falling behind 0-2, Arroyo worked a great at bat, fouling off several pitches (including a liner that hit Brandon Lowe in foul ground) before finally grounding out to second on the eighth pitch of the at bat.

The Rays again left some cheese in the calzone in the fifth. Meadows started it by ripping a single to right. Following a high fly out from Brandon Lowe, Kiermaier beat the shift by grounding a single the other way. Both runners were stranded by a Choi pop to first and a mile high fly ball to deep right center by Nate Lowe. If the two fly balls and the pop up this inning were stacked end to end, they easily would have gotten halfway to the moon.

With Ryne Harper pitching in the seventh, the Rays briefly put the first two runners on via a single to right by Meadows and a Matrix-worthy slide under Sano off a deflected chopper from BLowe. However, the call at second was overturned when it was ruled (correctly) that Sano’s swipe tag got the top of Meadows’ helmet. A KK strikeout and a Choi groundout ended the threat.

The Rays finally got back on the board in the bottom of the eighth, when Christian Arroyo hit a one-out drive to the deepest part of the park.

A Willy Adames single followed. Adames then moved up on a wild pitch, but d’Arnaud and Heredia could not drive him in.

The Rays went in order in the ninth.

The Rays will try to come away with a series split tomorrow. Start time is at 1:10 PM.