MLB: Rays’ offense explodes in win at Minnesota
MINNEAPOLIS -- When opportunity knocked Sunday, the Tampa Bay Rays finally answered. After scoring six runs total in the first two games of their series against the Minnesota Twins, missing several opportunities to win games along the way, the Ra...
MINNEAPOLIS - When opportunity knocked Sunday, the Tampa Bay Rays finally answered.
After scoring six runs total in the first two games of their series against the Minnesota Twins, missing several opportunities to win games along the way, the Rays banged out 19 hits - 10 of which came with runners in scoring position - in an 11-3 win at Target Field.
The loss was Minnesota’s second in the past 10 home games.
Clinging to a two-run lead after five innings, the Rays scored five runs off the Twins bullpen in the sixth to break the game open.
Following an RBI single by center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, third baseman Evan Longoria and first baseman James Loney kept the merry-go-round going with back-to-back RBI hits. Two batters later, left fielder David DeJesus punched a single to left, scoring another run to make it an 8-1 game.
“The guys came out swinging, we had a bunch of guys with big days,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “It seemed like everybody was picking up RBIs and having quality at-bats.”
Rays right-hander Chris Archer was the beneficiary of the support, allowing one run on four hits and a walk over six innings, improving to 4-4 this season.
“He threw all three of his pitches, commanded all of his pitches. It’s nice when you can get a lead and just settle in,” Rays catcher Bobby Wilson said. “He’s got such good stuff and he’s such a good competitor, when you give him the lead, he can just close the door.”
Seven Rays had at least two hits, including first baseman James Loney, who had four hits, walked once and drove in three runs. Third baseman Evan Longoria went 2-for-6 and also knocked in three.
Trailing 1-0 in the third inning, the Rays loaded the bases against Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson with nobody out. Longoria’s RBI single scored one before a sacrifice by Loney gave Tampa the lead for good.
An RBI single to center by right fielder Brandon Guyer after the Twins intentionally walked Loney made it 3-1 in the fifth inning.
The Rays’ big sixth inning came off Twins relievers Brian Duensing and Michael Tonkin, who combined to allow five runs on five hits, a walk and a hit batter.
Gibson took the loss, allowing three runs on eight hits and two walks while fanning two in five innings of work. It was his first loss in four starts at Target Field this season. Gibson entered the game 3-0 with a 0.44 ERA in three home starts.
“My goal is to keep the team in the game and give us a chance to win. We feel good about our offense,” Gibson said. “Being down two, I don’t really think that keeps us out of the game. I’m going out there and I’d like to get a couple more innings under my belt each time out there. Five innings is putting a lot of pressure on the pen to cover four innings like that against a pretty good team. That’s probably the most frustrating part.”
Longoria said the Rays tried to be patient with Gibson, forcing him to throw them pitches to hit.
“He wants to sink the ball down and in and our left-handed hitters did a good job of working good at-bats and working the ball the other way and making him throw the ball up,” Longoria said. “When we got runners on-base, we made him throw strikes up in the zone and just capitalized on some of the mistakes he made.”
Meanwhile, Archer was on cruise control, allowing just four hits - all singles - and a walk while striking out four. Archer has allowed three earned runs total over his past two starts in wins against the Twins and New York Yankees.
“Commanding the strike zone,” Cash said. “Today, I don’t think it was an easy outing by any means for him. You factor in their quality at-bats and guys laying off sliders, he had to make some quality pitches today on balls over the plate, which he did.
“His stuff is elite stuff. When he’s throwing strikes, he’s going to have a lot of good outings.”
Minnesota struggled offensively, scoring two of their three runs and two of their six hits in the bottom of the ninth with the game well out of hand.
“It’s just kind of how it goes. Sometimes it depends on who’s the other starting pitcher, too. Archer was good today, as advertised,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “He really good off-speed stuff. We got a run early, which I thought was going to be a good sign of the game with (Gibson) out there. He was very stingy after that.”
NOTES: Rays INF Nick Franklin, activated off the 15-day disabled list following the game Saturday, was in the lineup at second base and batted eighth Sunday. Franklin missed the first six weeks of the season with an oblique injury. ... Rays LHP Jake McGee saw his first action of the season Sunday, striking out two in a perfect inning of work. McGee was activated on Friday after missing the first part of the season recovering from offseason elbow surgery. ... Twins UT Eduardo Nunez was activated off the 15-day disabled list (oblique) following the game on Sunday. ... Twins DH Kennys Vargas was optioned to Triple-A Rochester to make room for Nunez. ... Twins RHP Tim Stauffer (intercostal strain), was pitched 1 1/3 innings in Rochester on a rehab assignment. The Twins are expected to decide on what to do with Stauffer before their next game on Tuesday ... Twins RHP Casey Fien (right shoulder) threw a 30-pitch bullpen session on Sunday. If he continues to progress, he will throw another bullpen on Wednesday before heading out on a rehab assignment.