After eking out two one-run wins against Seattle, tonight’s 6-1 victory felt almost relaxing.
Corey Kluber had a good, quick, pitch-to-contact inning, and then the Rays hitters showed thus far successful soft tossing righty Dylan Bundy that regression is a thing. Eight pitches in the Rays had scored four runs, with B-Lowe, Wander, and Yandy Diaz all getting hits and J-Lowe connecting for his first major league home run.
You could say the Rays helped the Twins keep the game from getting out of control by running into the inning’s first out. Arozarena was on second and was waved around third by Linares on a single, but was thrown out. Many of my DRB colleagues are complaining about the decision to send Randy, but I’m OK with it — it took a perfect throw to get him and the throw was indeed perfect. Two strike outs later and the inning was over.
After Kluber cruised through the Twins second, the Rays cobbled together one more run after Taylor Walls walked (Bundy’s second walk of the game....but only third walk of the season!), made it to third on a steal and a groundout, and scored on a Diaz single. The small ball run was followed by the long ball run when Mike Zunino homered to make the score 6-0
The Twins did get a run in the fourth. Kluber hit Buxton, and Buxton moved to second on a grounder from where he could score on Correa’s single. But an unassisted double play (Diaz caught Polanco’s liner and stepped on the base to double up Correa) put the lid on any Twin’s rally. Kluber did not throw more than 15 pitches in any of the first five innings; Buxton managed an extended at bat in the sixth but even that ended in a strike out. His final line was 6 innings, 1 hit, no walks and six strikeouts. He threw just 71 pitches and I had sort of hoped to see him back out for the seventh!
The Rays had another scoring chance in the seventh thanks to a walk, a single and a double steal. But once more a run was cut off at the plate; B-Lowe was running on contact and therefore ran into an out at home on a ground ball.
If I were the Twins I’d be pleased that after a terrible first, Dylan Bundy did settle down and get through six innings. From the Rays point of view, it was wonderful to see Kluber come up with a strong, efficient pitching performance, and then to see Guerra and Sanders, what we might see as the Rays “B” bullpen, were able to pitch three strong innings.
I suppose if you want to be grumpy you can complain about having two runners thrown out at home, but otherwise this was an impressive game with sharp defense, excellent pitching and timely hitting. Two struggling hitters - Zunino and J-Lowe — hit homeruns that hopefully will help them get over the hitting doldrums.
And bonus: the game took 2 hours and 16 minutes!