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Hustling Span helps Rays walk off in 10th

Archer returns to form; bullpen bailed out by late heroics
April 20, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays never quit Friday night, and the reward came via an 8-7 walk-off win over the Twins at Tropicana Field.But it wasn't your everyday walk-off win.Denard Span beat out a two-out ground ball to first base, and pinch-runner Johnny Field raced home from second with the

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays never quit Friday night, and the reward came via an 8-7 walk-off win over the Twins at Tropicana Field.
But it wasn't your everyday walk-off win.
Denard Span beat out a two-out ground ball to first base, and pinch-runner Johnny Field raced home from second with the winning run. Rays players rushed from the dugout onto the field to celebrate, only to have to wait until an official review confirmed that they had in fact won.
"Agonizing," said Rays manager Kevin Cash when asked about having to wait for the review results before knowing if his team had won. "Pretty agonizing. And even after the replay came, I don't think it gave us any clarity. I know New York sees different angles and closer versions than what we see on the Jumbotron, but pretty agonizing."
Twins pitcher Zach Duke was given an error on the play as he could not find first base with his foot, which allowed Span to be safe.
"I mean, it felt like I got a piece of the bag, but apparently they didn't see it on the replay, so it doesn't matter that much," Duke said.
Wilson Ramos doubled with one out in the 10th to start the winning rally. Field was inserted to pinch-run. After Mallex Smith struck out, Adeiny Hechavarria was intentionally walked to bring Span to the plate and trigger the wild finish.
The Rays saw a 6-2 lead disappear in the eighth thanks to Eddie Rosario's grand slam off Sergio Romo. Max Kepler then homered off Ryan Yarbrough in the top of the ninth to give the Twins a 7-6 lead.
But the Rays came back.
Fernando Rodney hit Carlos Gomez with two outs in the ninth. With Brad Miller at the plate, Gomez stole his first base of the season, and Miller singled home Gomez to tie the game at 7.
Chris Archer allowed two runs on four hits and a walk while striking out five in 6 2/3 innings, and he appeared to be well on his way to his second win of the season. Then the bullpen struggled.
"I thought Arch was really good," Cash said. "I know that shouldn't get lost in the game just the way it ended there the last couple of innings."
Span supplied most of the offense early on, going 2-for-5 and driving home three against his former team.

Miller stepped to the plate to face Rodney with two outs in the ninth and Gomez on second base representing the tying run. When the count reached 2-1, Miller swung at a 94-mph two-seamer and ripped the ball back through the middle. After ricocheting off the mound, the ball deflected off the top of shortstop Eduardo Escobar's glove into center for a game-tying single.

"That was sick," said Miller when asked about his ball hitting the mound.
Hechavarria extended his errorless streak to 68 games and 228 chances, longest in Rays club history for a shortstop by games, and third-longest by chances (club record is 242).

"We feel sexy about it. It's not how old you are, it's how you feel. And every day I feel hot." -- Gomez, on veteran players, including himself and Span, getting the job done.
The Twins challenged in the bottom of the 10th when Span was ruled safe at first, which allowed the winning run to score. Span grounded to Joe Mauer on the play, and the Twins' first baseman flipped to Duke covering first. But the left-hander struggled to touch the bag with his foot, and Span appeared to win the race to the base. After a 2 minute, 16 second review, the call on the field was upheld.
"Off the bat I saw Joe Mauer dive for the ball," Span said. "I think out of frustration -- I rolled over a ball -- so I was like, 'I'm going to hustle, bust my butt down the line.' And when he flipped it, I could definitely tell that Zach Duke missed the bag. So I just kept running. And I saw him try to reach for the bag again, and I felt like I beat him there."

Twins manager Paul Molitor said they couldn't tell from the dugout if Duke got the bag.
"Obviously, with the game on the line you can challenge and see what they find," Molitor said. "I'm not sure if they confirmed it or just didn't have enough to overturn it. Tough play to lose on a [pitcher covering a base]."
Blake Snell will try and build on his last performance when the Rays host the Twins Saturday in a 6:10 p.m. ET contest at Tropicana Field. On Monday, Snell picked up the win when he allowed just one run, on five hits and no walks in 6 1/3 innings, striking out nine. The left-hander has seemingly gotten better in each of his last two starts. Kyle Gibson will take the mound for the Twins.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for since 2005.