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Bullpen scuffles in loss as Rays walk off

Special to MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Twins were swept out of Tropicana Field on Sunday afternoon, dropping a crushing 8-6 decision against the Rays on Carlos Gomez's walk-off two-run homer, completing a lost weekend for the bullpen.

Right-hander Addison Reed, the Twins' sixth pitcher, allowed a leadoff single to C.J. Cron in the ninth, then Rob Refsnyder entered as a pinch-runner. Gomez, who had struck out three times and was 0-for-4, promptly drove Reed's first offering into the left-field bleachers.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- The Twins were swept out of Tropicana Field on Sunday afternoon, dropping a crushing 8-6 decision against the Rays on Carlos Gomez's walk-off two-run homer, completing a lost weekend for the bullpen.

Right-hander Addison Reed, the Twins' sixth pitcher, allowed a leadoff single to C.J. Cron in the ninth, then Rob Refsnyder entered as a pinch-runner. Gomez, who had struck out three times and was 0-for-4, promptly drove Reed's first offering into the left-field bleachers.

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"I was trying to get ahead away and I couldn't have hit the middle more if I tried,'' Reed said. "He did what he was supposed to do with it. Just a stupid pitch.''

In three games against the Rays, the Twins' bullpen utilized nine different relievers, allowing 20 hits in 10 innings, along with 14 earned runs for a 12.60 ERA.

Video: MIN@TB: Gomez crushes a massive walk-off homer

The Twins now head to New York for a four-game series against the Yankees. With the bullpen worn down by lots of work and poor results, the Twins need a good start from right-hander Jake Odorizzi.

"We had to burn through some people and now I'm trying to measure how many innings I have available,'' said Twins manager Paul Molitor. "Just a tough series overall. We had trouble containing [giving up 26 runs in three games]. Gomez hasn't swung the bat great this series, but we know he's always dangerous. He put an end to the game quickly.

"It was another one of those games where we fought our way back, but couldn't finish it. It's the nature of the game, the unpredictability of day-to-day outcomes and what might transpire. We're heading into a tough environment to play for four days. I think we have enough leadership to bounce back.''

Right-hander Phil Hughes, making his first start since May 21 in a 2017 season that was shut down by treatment for thoracic outlet syndrome, lasted just 3 1/3 innings and allowed a two-run homer to Cron, the second batter he faced, following a leadoff walk to Denard Span. In all, Hughes labored through a 35-pitch first inning and the Twins were warming up reliever Trevor Hildenberger.

Video: MIN@TB: Hughes tosses his first strikeout of the year

"It wasn't exactly the first inning I was hoping for,'' Hughes said. "Not an ideal start. I really put a burden on the bullpen and you can't do that.''

Hughes settled down with two scoreless innings and worked into the fourth. Meanwhile, the Twins forged a 2-2 tie, getting a second-inning solo homer from Eduardo Escobar and a third-inning RBI single from Eddie Rosario, then took a one-run lead on Max Kepler's run-scoring double in the sixth.

Video: MIN@TB: Escobar drills a solo home run in the 2nd

It didn't last long. Twins reliever Taylor Rogers was touched for three straight hits, including an RBI single by Joey Wendle to tie the game, then Alan Busenitz was greeted by a three-run homer from Rays shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, making it 6-3.

Dozier sets club mark for hit streak to open year

The Twins got a run back in the seventh on Miguel Sano's pinch-hit RBI single, then tied it with a two-out rally in the eighth. With Escobar aboard on a fielder's choice, Ehire Adrianza singled. The Rays summoned right-hander Sergio Romo, who allowed a walk to pinch-hitter Mitch Garver, filling the bases, then a two-run single to Brian Dozier, tying the game at 6 and setting up the finish.

Video: MIN@TB: Dozier ropes a game-tying single in the 8th 

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
The Twins were looking to get their offense untracked, so runs were at a premium. The seventh inning represented a lost opportunity. Sano collected a pinch-hit RBI single and cut the Rays' lead to 6-4. The tying runs were on base with one out with Rosario, the cleanup batter, at the plate. But Rosario bounced to Rays second baseman Wendle, who triggered a 4-6-3 double play. End of threat.

Video: MIN@TB: Sano lines a pinch-hit RBI single in the 7th

SOUND SMART
The Twins were swept despite holding a lead in all three games against the Rays in the weekend series. They entered without having a blown lead in defeat this season. It's only the third time in club history for the Twins to suffer three walk-off losses within their first 16 games (also 1969 and 1980).

HE SAID IT
"This stuff happens. Things didn't work out the way we wanted them to. This was one of those series you've got to kind of forget about, hop on the plane and start over.'' -- Reed

UP NEXT
Yankee Stadium has been a House of Horrors for the Twins, who have gone 12-40 in the Bronx since 2002. On Monday night at 6:05 p.m. CT, the Twins will start right-hander Jake Odorizzi (1-1, 3.38 ERA), who was 5-7 with a 4.31 ERA against the Yankees during his days with the Rays. The Yankees will counter with right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (2-2, 6.45 ERA).

Joey Johnston is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.

Minnesota Twins