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Rays' comeback effort falls short in loss to Twins

MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Rays made a furious comeback effort Friday night as they tried to dig themselves out of an early hole, but the rally fell short. Tampa Bay lost to the Twins, 11-8, at Target Field and dropped its second straight game to Minnesota.

Rays starter Nathan Eovaldi was coming off one of his strongest outings of the year -- a nine-strikeout performance against the Mets on Sunday in which he held New York to one hit over seven innings. But the Twins jumped on the right-hander from the get-go. Minnesota batted around and put four runs on the board in the first inning as they punished Eovaldi for leaving a cluster of pitches up in the zone.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Rays made a furious comeback effort Friday night as they tried to dig themselves out of an early hole, but the rally fell short. Tampa Bay lost to the Twins, 11-8, at Target Field and dropped its second straight game to Minnesota.

Rays starter Nathan Eovaldi was coming off one of his strongest outings of the year -- a nine-strikeout performance against the Mets on Sunday in which he held New York to one hit over seven innings. But the Twins jumped on the right-hander from the get-go. Minnesota batted around and put four runs on the board in the first inning as they punished Eovaldi for leaving a cluster of pitches up in the zone.

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"I fell behind a couple batters and I just need to do a better job of making my pitches," Eovaldi said. "Pitches that they hit were pretty much right down the middle. I just wasn't executing my pitches tonight."

All told, Eovaldi allowed eight earned runs over 2 2/3 innings as the Twins tallied nine hits. His ERA climbed from 3.35 to 4.59.

Video: TB@MIN: Eovaldi fans Rosario in the 2nd

Eovaldi made a number of adjustments to try to right the ship, but the Twins adapted to whatever he threw. Joe Mauer and Eddie Rosario both recorded hits on four-seam fastballs. Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler each did the same against Eovaldi's cutter. Robbie Grossman and Jake Cave then added two more hits, both of which came on splitters left in the middle of the plate.

"It looked like Nate caught a lot of white with his strikes," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He pounded the strike zone, but they didn't get off the fastball. That's kind of what we talk about with him -- he's just power, power, power. Maybe not enough separation, and I think that showed tonight. That, and the strike-throwing. But give Nate some credit: he kept attacking, it just wasn't happening for him."

Eovaldi's day came to an end when Mauer crushed a three-run homer 427 feet to dead-center to make it an 8-1 game. Andrew Kittredge came on to do damage control for the Rays and limited the Twins to one run over 2 1/3 innings as Tampa Bay began to work its way back into the game.

The Rays tacked on a run in the third and another in the fourth against former Tampa Bay starter Jake Odorizzi. Then, in the fifth, Jake Bauers launched a three-run shot off of Odorizzi that cut the deficit to 8-5. Alan Busenitz came on to replace Odorizzi and gave up a run-scoring double to C.J. Cron to make it a two-run game, and Matt Duffy rapped an RBI single in the sixth to pull the Rays within one.

Video: TB@MIN: Cron smokes an RBI double to deep right

But Eduardo Escobar and Grossman each delivered run-scoring hits in the sixth inning, and the Twins tacked on two runs in the seventh.

"If we score eight runs, we're gonna win more games than not," Cash said. "But it was just too little, too late, probably. We had some good at-bats against Odorizzi, put some pressure on him. [The Twins] had to go to their bullpen early, and they came in and did a pretty nice job of limiting and ultimately quieting us."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
In the top of the ninth, Joey Wendle crushed his fourth homer of the year, a 420-foot blast that carried to right field and ricocheted off a flag pole stationed on the concourse. It was the longest homer of the six Wendle has hit in his career -- the previous best was a 406-foot shot on May 29 this season.

Video: TB@MIN: Wendle crushes homer in the 9th

HE SAID IT
"Once I came around and scored in the fourth, I came into the dugout and [Mallex Smith] brought out some dumbbells for me and was telling me to knock out some different workouts. So, credit to him on that second one." -- Jake Bauers, on his fifth-inning home run. An inning earlier, he hit a double off the right field wall that came inches away from leaving the ballpark.

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Rays thought they had received some instant offense in the fourth, when Bauers launched a flyball off the Kasota stone at the top of the right-field wall that was initially ruled a home run. But after a brief review, the call was overturned and Bauers' hit was switched to a double. He went on to homer an inning later during Tampa Bay's four-run frame.

Video: TB@MIN: Bauers' homer changed to double in the 4th

UP NEXT
The Rays will face the Twins for the third game in a four-game set Saturday at 2:10 p.m. ET at Target Field. Chris Archer (3-4, 4.41 ERA) will get the nod for Tampa Bay and make his second start since returning from the disabled list with a strained abdominal muscle. Archer will square off with Twins All-Star Jose Berrios (9-7, 3.41 ERA).

Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com.

Tampa Bay Rays