Adrianza, Escobar propel Twins past Rays
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Minnesota Twins needed contributions from the top and bottom of the order to avoid a three-game sweep at Tropicana Field.
Ehire Adrianza hit a three-run homer and Eduardo Escobar was 3-for-5 with three RBIs to lift the Twins to a 10-6 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday afternoon.
The Twins (72-67) climbed back into a tie with the Los Angeles Angels for the American League’s second wild-card spot by scoring three runs in the top of the seventh to break a 6-6 tie.
“Every time we’d pull ahead, they’d get right back to even,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “It’s frustrating, and a little bit of a test to see how you can persevere through a game like that after you’ve lost a few in a row. We stayed after it and some guys stepped up big late in the game.”
Tampa Bay (70-71) received home runs from Evan Longoria, Lucas Duda and Kevin Kiermaier but made a crucial defensive mistake late in the game.
Minnesota took a 7-6 lead in the seventh on a throwing error by Rays reliever Steve Cishek that allowed Brian Dozier to score from first base. After Dozier walked, Jorge Polanco laid down a sacrifice bunt, but Cishek fired the ball past first baseman Duda and into the right field bullpen. Polanco ended up on third with the two-base error.
“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to finish off a series,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We won a series, which was important. I liked the way the guys competed. We get down, they came back, we get down again and they come back again. Frustrating loss just because it got separated there in the seventh.”
Escobar made it 8-6 with a bloop single to right-center that plated Polanco. He would eventually score on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice by pinch hitter Max Kepler.
The Twins added an insurance run in the ninth when Escobar had a one-out triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by Robbie Grossman.
“I think the important thing here is that the offense woke up,” Escobar said through a translator. “We didn’t hit as well in the first few games. We leave here with a positive mind. Knowing that we won and that the offense woke up again, I think it gives us good momentum to go into Kansas City.”
The Rays tied the game at 6 in the fifth on Kiermaier’s 11th home run of the season, a two-run blast to right-center.
Dozier led off the game with a home run to left field off Rays starter Blake Snell. Longoria tied it in the bottom of the first with a solo shot off Twins starter Blake Snell.
Adrianza gave the Twins a 4-1 lead in the second with his blast to left. Duda tied the game in the bottom of the third with a three-run homer to dead center.
“Sweeping is hard in the big leagues,” Rays outfielder Steven Souza Jr. said. “We just had so many opportunities to win this ball game and everybody was fighting. We know we gained a game, could’ve gained three and that would have been an enormous swing.”
Minnesota scratched across two runs in the top of the fifth on Escobar’s two-run single.
Neither starter factored into the decision. Snell gave up six runs in four-plus innings while Slegers surrendered five runs and walked two in four-plus frames.
“The walks are always something I pride myself on not doing,” Slegers said. “When I give up runs like that, I can always look back to the walks as the rally starter for the opposing team.”
Taylor Rogers (6-3) struck out two in 1 1/3 innings to get the win. Cishek (3-2) took the loss.
NOTES: Rays RHP Chris Archer played catch again and will start Friday against the Red Sox, according to Rays manager Kevin Cash. The originally scheduled starter, RHP Austin Pruitt, pitched in relief Wednesday. ... Twins OF Miguel Sano did some light running Wednesday in Minnesota and is likely to take batting practice Thursday. ... Rays 1B Logan Morrison (stomach flu) was scratched from the lineup for a second consecutive day but performed pinch hit duties in the ninth. ... Twins 1B/C Joe Mauer entered the game as a pinch hitter and went 0-for-1 with a walk, snapping his 14-game hit streak.