There are not many positives in the 9-3 defeat by the Twins. What were those positives? First, Randy hit the ball with authority several times. Second, Robert Dugger did a great job saving the pen. Finally...um...doggos? Yeah, doggos at the park.
The Rays were dealt a couple bad omens before the game even started. Choi was placed on the IL with loose bodies in his elbow, and Wander was a scratch while he deals with hammy tightness. So the Rays did not send out an ideal lineup. On the plus side, we got to see the Rays debut of Isaac Paredes.
Things were over before they started as the Twins hung a five spot on Josh Fleming in the first inning. Leading off, Fleming coaxed a routine ground to short by Buxton. Unfortunately, Walls airmailed the throw, putting a runner in scoring position right away. Fleming then walked Correa after a lengthy at bat. Garlick followed and grounded a single through the open right side. 1-0 Twins. A Polanco double in the left-center gap chased both runners home. 3-0 Twins.
One out later and Max Kepler doubled to left, making it a four spot. Sánchez also got in on the fun, singling through the open right side (again), making it 5-0. Finally, mercifully, Celestino grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.
Here’s some doggos.
Pups at the park!— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) May 1, 2022
Doggos in the dome! pic.twitter.com/bb9c1ofH6E
Overlooked fact this series: Kyle Snyder, the pitcher whisperer, is on the COVID shelf. Was his first inning mound visit voodoo missed? I mean, we’ll never really know for sure, but probably.
Chris Paddack was a scratch for Minnesota, and Josh Winder got the ball. How did he do? Winder Twins powers: Activate! He cruised through six innings, giving up just two hits and a walk with seven strikeouts.
One of those hits came from Harold Ramírez, who lined a single to center with one out in the second. Nothing came of it, but at least we ended the no hitter watch early.
The Rays got a base runner in the bottom of the third when Phillips walked. But Pinto grounded into a 4-6-3 that featured a nifty turn by Correa.
With two outs in the fourth, Buxton ended Fleming’s day by scooping a 1-2 breaking ball into the seats in left. 6-0 Twins.
The recently called up Robert Dugger took over, and despite giving up a hit to the first man he faced, settled in nicely through his first few innings. His curve especially looked fun, and the heater up — while not overpowering — seemed to have some invisiball action to it.
With one out in the bottom of the fourth the Rays got a man into scoring position when Randy smoked one into the right center field gap for a double. A strikeout by Josh Lowe and a groundout by Ramírez ended the threat.
Dugger ran into trouble when the lineup turned over in the seventh. A single by Correa, a double by Larnach, and a double by Polanco made it 8-0 Twins.
Tyler Duffey took over for Winder in the bottom of the seventh. Josh Lowe greeted him with a one out opposite field double. One out later, and Taylor Walls slapped a hanging curve up the third base line for a double, scoring Lowe. 8-1.
An infield single by Paredes put runners on the corners, but Phillips grounded to second, ending the threat.
Cash felt good enough to send Dugger back out there eighth. Not overly loud contact, but the Twins did get singles from Celestino, Buxton, and Larnach to make it a 9-1 game.
Florida State alum Cole Sands got the bottom of the eighth for the Twins. BLowe ripped a one out ground rule double to right, then scored on a soft single to center by Margot. Randy hit it hard into the left center gap for a double, scoring Margot.
Dugger pitched a clean ninth, finishing his day. The line might not look overly impressive (5.1, 8 hits, 3 runs, 0 walks, 7 strikeouts) but it was a gutty performance the day after we used 69 relievers. Getting this kind of length out him is going to save the pen in this long West Coast road trip they have coming up. Dugger should be proud of his performance.
The Rays went in order in the ninth. Here’s more dogs.