Game 14: Twins Rally, Top Rays 5-4

By David Hill

Once again, the Rays bullpen failed to hold a lead, and the Rays dropped to 7-7 on the year.

Minnesota began the scoring early against Rays starter Matt Moore. With one out, Jamey Carroll hit a single to shallow left field. Following a steal of second, Joe Mauer drove Carroll in with a single to left, giving the Twins an early 1-0 lead. Moore would escape the inning without further damage, but pitched with runners on base all night.

Minnesota starter Liam Hendriks, on the other hand, was in control early. While Moore gave up 7 baserunners over the first 4 innings, the Rays only had a second inning Evan Longoria walk and a Matt Joyce single against Hendriks.

Moore eventually got touched up again in the top of the fifth. Denard Span led off the inning with an infield hit, and promptly stole second. Carroll grounded out to short, moving Span over to third. Joe Mauer then struck yet again with a base hit to center, plating Span and giving the Twins a 2-0 lead. Josh Willingham hit a line drive to third, and Mauer was doubled off first to end the inning.

The Rays finally got on the board in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Matt Joyce continued the hot start to his season, slugging his fourth home run of the year to center to cut the lead to 2-1. Hendricks then retired B.J. Upton and Chris Gimenez on groundballs to third to end the inning.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Rays offense showed some signs of life. Sean Rodriguez hit a sharp ground ball to second, which glanced off Alexi Casilla‘s glove for a base hit. Desmond Jennings followed with a bunt, and reached first when Casilla was slow to cover first. Ben Zobrist walked to load the bases with no outs. Carlos Pena came up, and hit into a 4-6-3 double play, tying the game at 2. Evan Longoria followed with a home run to left, giving the Rays the lead at 4-2.

The lead would not hold up for long, however. With one out, Casilla singled to center, ending Moore’s night. Brandon Gomes came on in relief, and allowed both hitters he faced to reach base, as Span singled and Carroll walked. With the bases loaded, Joel Peralta was brought in to try to escape the jam. Mauer flied out to shallow left, leaving the bases loaded with two out. Josh Willingham then lined a double to right center, clearing the bases and giving the Twins a 5-4 lead. The double extended his hitting streak to start the year to 14 games, leaving him one away from tying the team record held by Kirby Puckett.

That score would hold up, as the Twins bullpen allowed only an eighth inning walk to Ben Zobrist the rest of the way. Once again, the Rays bullpen failed to hold a lead, as Joe Maddon is still in search of a reliable arm to come in for the late innings of a close ballgame.