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Rays fall to Twins, snap win streak at six

Kiermaier homer not enough as Minnesota rallies for two in 9th
@juanctoribio
May 31, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- Despite jumping out to an early 3-1 lead, Adam Kolarek allowed a two-run single to Eddie Rosario in the ninth inning as the Rays lost to the Twins, 5-3, Friday night at Tropicana Field, which snapped the club’s six-game winning streak. Kevin Kiermaier got the Rays on

ST. PETERSBURG -- Despite jumping out to an early 3-1 lead, Adam Kolarek allowed a two-run single to Eddie Rosario in the ninth inning as the Rays lost to the Twins, 5-3, Friday night at Tropicana Field, which snapped the club’s six-game winning streak.

Kevin Kiermaier got the Rays on the board with a two-run home run in the second inning, his sixth of the season, to gives the Rays an early 2-1 lead.

In the third inning, the Rays created a run as Willy Adames took off for second base, then stopped between first and second, giving Austin Meadows enough time to steal home. It was the 12th steal of home in Rays franchise history and the first since Mallex Smith on Sept. 9, 2018.

Aside from that, the Rays offense was quiet against Twins starter Jose Berrios, who allowed just three runs over 6 2/3 innings of work. That gave the Twins offense, who outhit the Rays 10-4, enough time to set up a game-winning rally in the ninth inning.

Box score

Diego Castillo led off the ninth inning by hitting Jonathan Schoop, who advanced to second base on Byron Buxton's sacrifice bunt. After getting Max Kepler to ground out to first base, the Rays opted to intentionally walk Jorge Polanco, setting up a matchup between Castillo and Willians Astudillo.

Castillo got two quick strikes on Astudillo before hitting him on the left shoulder to load the bases. That’s when Rays manager Kevin Cash called on Kolarek to face Rosario with the bases loaded.

“The batters that he should be facing right now, mainly left-handers, he’s done a really nice job,” Cash said. “We ask him to get ground balls and he gets ground balls. He got one tonight, we just weren’t there.”

Left-handed hitters came into Friday’s game hitting just .132 against Kolarek, but Rosario was able to come through in the clutch with an opposite-field single to give the Twins the lead in the ninth inning. Before Rosario’s base hit, Kolarek had inherited 15 baserunners this season and had not allowed one to score.

“Good teams are going to make you pay,” Cash said. “And they did.”

Even with the result, Kolarek said that he was pleased with the location of the pitch and credited Rosario for putting a good swing on another tough pitch in the at-bat.

“I threw the first [pitch] that he fouled off and it really got in on him. That has kind of been my consistent plan of attack against left-handers that I’ve gotten a lot of ground balls with, but they’ve just been outs. When it works out, it’s definitely the right pitch. But I’m definitely not second-guessing the pitch at all.”

Despite the Rays having a 35-20 record through 55 games, Tampa Bay has seen its top two relievers, José Alvarado and Castillo, struggle a bit in May, which could be a concern moving forward. Alvarado, who retired two of the three hitters he faced on Friday, came into the game with a 6.23 ERA in May, compared to a dominant April, where he posted a 1.64 ERA. Castillo has stayed more consistent, but has allowed at least one run in three of his last five appearances.

But even with the recent struggles for their top two arms out of the bullpen, Cash and the Rays remain confident that the two relievers will continue to improve as the season goes on.

“They’ve been fighting it a little bit, there’s no denying that,” Cash said. “They were so good for a month and a half or whatever it is, but these last two weeks have crept up. There’s been some situations that have popped up there that it’s just a matter of simplifying it and executing pitch to pitch.

“But we’re going to rely on those guys to help us continue to win games in whatever role it is.”

Juan Toribio covers the Rays for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @juanctoribio.