Nelson Cruz had three hits for Minnesota, including the go-ahead, three-run, two-out double after Tampa Bay starter Charlie Morton left in the seventh inning to lead the Twins past the Rays 6-4 on Wednesday night.
Taylor Rogers recorded the last four outs for his 10th save, and the Twins beat the Rays for the fifth straight time.
Cruz, who had 373 career home runs and turns 39 on Monday, beat out an infield single that died in the grass halfway up the third-base line during a three-run first against Morton (8-2). His last hit was more in form, a crushed line drive off Emilio Pagan with an exit velocity of 108 mph that landed in deep center field.
The seventh-inning rally was fueled by an error on Morton that could’ve easily been charged to first baseman Ji-Man Choi, who fumbled a grounder when he popped up too soon in anticipation of a double play. Morton, the American League ERA leader, dropped the toss by Choi to first. Then Rays manager Kevin Cash went to the bullpen one batter later.
Twins starter Jake Odorizzi squandered his 3-0 lead, when Kevin Kiermaier hit a two-run homer in the second inning and Tommy Pham went deep to tie the game in the sixth. Odorizzi was removed one batter later. Trevor May (3-1) allowed a solo shot to Willy Adames in the seventh, but the momentum didn’t last long for the struggling Rays. They are just 10-16 since beating the Twins 14-3 at home on May 30.
Eddie Rosario and C.J. Cron hit RBI singles in the first, and Rosario later raced home on Morton’s wild pitch. The basepaths weren’t as kind to Rosario in the third, when he sprained his left ankle while trying to turn a single into a double. The Twins were already fielding a lineup without fellow starting outfielders Byron Buxton and Max Kepler and multi-position player Marwin Gonzalez, another regular.
Rays: 3B/1B Yandy Diaz went through drills without trouble for his right hamstring and stayed on track for reinstatement from the injured list on Thursday.
Twins: Kepler began on the bench with swelling in his bruised right elbow, stemming from a pitch that hit him in the previous game, but he entered in the eighth inning for defense. … Buxton was still testing his bruised right wrist that has sidelined him for the last 11 games, with the possibility remaining of a short rehab assignment in the minors before he returns to the lineup.
Rays: The starter for the series finale was to be determined following the game, with the possibility of using an opener out of the bullpen.
Twins: LHP Martín Pérez will take the mound on Thursday afternoon. He’s 0-2 with a 7.50 ERA in 24 innings over his last five turns.
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