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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, capping a rough weekend for the bullpen as Rays right fielder Carlos Gomez blasted a walk-off two-run homer in the ninth inning off reliever Addison Reed to cap an 8-6 loss.

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, then 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, capping a rough weekend for the bullpen as Rays right fielder Carlos Gomez blasted a walk-off two-run homer in the ninth inning off reliever Addison Reed to cap an 8-6 loss.

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, then drove Reed's first offering into the left-field bleachers.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

Minnesota Twins

Dozier sets club mark for hit streak to open year

Twins 2B has hit safely in 16 straight games in '18, 23 straight going back to '17
Special to MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Twins second baseman Brian Dozier set a club record for the longest hitting streak to start a season, extending to 16 straight games with a third-inning single in the Twins' 8-6 loss against the Rays on Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field.

Dozier's single just got past a diving Adeiny Hechavarria at shortstop.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Twins second baseman Brian Dozier set a club record for the longest hitting streak to start a season, extending to 16 straight games with a third-inning single in the Twins' 8-6 loss against the Rays on Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field.

Dozier's single just got past a diving Adeiny Hechavarria at shortstop.

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Dozier passed Kirby Puckett (1994) and Josh Willingham (2012), who each had 15-game hitting streaks to start a season.

Dating back to Sept. 22 of last season, Dozier has hit safely in 23 straight games.

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

Minnesota Twins, Brian Dozier

Odorizzi excited, locked in for start vs. Yankees

Buxton scheduled to return in New York; Twins contribute to Earth Day
Special to MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- After completing the three-game weekend series with the Rays, the Twins will journey to Yankee Stadium for a four-game set against the Yankees.

Monday night's starter is right-hander Jake Odorizzi, who had plenty of experience against the Yankees while playing for the Rays (2013-17) in the American League East. In seven appearances (six starts) at Yankee Stadium, Odorizzi is 2-3 with a 5.75 ERA.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- After completing the three-game weekend series with the Rays, the Twins will journey to Yankee Stadium for a four-game set against the Yankees.

Monday night's starter is right-hander Jake Odorizzi, who had plenty of experience against the Yankees while playing for the Rays (2013-17) in the American League East. In seven appearances (six starts) at Yankee Stadium, Odorizzi is 2-3 with a 5.75 ERA.

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Twins manager Paul Molitor said that's a plus.

"I think it helps,'' Molitor said. "There's kind of a process younger players go through, just being in the big leagues, going to tough environments like Yankee Stadium.

"It's a fun place to go play, once you feel like you belong there. Jake, obviously being in that division, knows what this is about. He's probably looking forward to that.''

Odorizzi said pitching in Yankee Stadium can be a nerve-wracking experience.

"You can't take a pitch off up there,'' said Odorizzi, who was acquired from the Rays during Spring Training. "The game can switch and transition so quickly. The lineup they put out there, obviously it's really good.

"You have to be locked in from pitch one. If you give them a little bit of daylight, they can [score]. No one is ever out of a game in Yankee Stadium. I've definitely seen the game and the bad up there.''

As much as Odorizzi relishes the opportunity to pitch in Yankee Stadium, he was somewhat disappointed that he missed a chance to face the Rays, his old team, at Tropicana Field.

"Just the way it worked out,'' Odorizzi said. "I was wanting to throw [against the Rays], but so many snow days and postponements changed things around. I liked seeing some of the guys on the field, but I didn't poke my head in the clubhouse. It's not my clubhouse anymore.''

Buxton in action
Twins outfielder Byron Buxton, who went on the 10-day disabled list with migraines during the club's trip to Puerto Rico last week, was scheduled to play designated hitter on Sunday for Class A Advanced Fort Myers at Bradenton.

Buxton, who took batting practice Saturday, is scheduled to play center field on Monday and Tuesday when Fort Myers goes to Clearwater. After that, if all goes well, Buxton could join the Major League club in New York.

"We don't have to commit to that,'' Molitor said. "But if there are no setbacks, that's how it could work.''

Adrianza impresses
Twins shortstop Ehire Adrianza got a start on Saturday night and responded with three spectacular early game defensive gems, making plays from deep in the hole. Molitor had Adrianza back in the lineup for Sunday's game.

Video: MIN@TB: Adrianza robs Span with spectacular play

"He's got the ability to be a plus shortstop,'' Molitor said. "The fact that he hasn't had a chance to play a lot the last couple of years, maybe that affects your sharpness.

"We watch him work and he has that smoothness about how he handles the position. He's rangy. He has really good, soft hands. Playing on turf [Saturday night] after not playing a while, to react like that, it's definitely nice to see.''

Earth Day is every day
Major League Baseball celebrated Sunday's Earth Day by highlighting various league-wide sustainability efforts.

For the Twins, Earth Day is every day, considering the club's commitment to the cause.

The Twins are among 15 MLB clubs that have installed LED field lighting, featuring fixtures that are more energy efficient and have a lifespan of 30 years.

In the area of recycling, the Twins send waste collected at Target Field to the Hennepin County Energy Recovery Center, where it is incinerated and converted to energy that powers some of the downtown grid. Steam produced from that process is used to heat Target Field. Overall, the Twins composted 281 tons of organized material in 2017.

Through the club's Pentair rainwater collection system, the Twins save an average of 2 million gallons of water per year, reducing their need for municipal water by more than 50 percent.

The Twins also donate food to local food banks and organizations.

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

Minnesota Twins, Ehire Adrianza, Byron Buxton, Jake Odorizzi

Bullpen struggles, bats stifled in Twins' loss

Dozier extends hit streak to 15, tying club record
Special to MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson said it was probably his best outing of the season. He was sharp and precise. There were only a couple of mistakes. Saturday night, though, the Twins had no margin for error.

Gibson battled into the seventh inning of a tight game before the Rays blew it open, winning 10-1 at Tropicana Field. The Rays scored a combined eight runs in the seventh and eighth innings. Meanwhile, Gibson got little support from his offense or bullpen.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson said it was probably his best outing of the season. He was sharp and precise. There were only a couple of mistakes. Saturday night, though, the Twins had no margin for error.

Gibson battled into the seventh inning of a tight game before the Rays blew it open, winning 10-1 at Tropicana Field. The Rays scored a combined eight runs in the seventh and eighth innings. Meanwhile, Gibson got little support from his offense or bullpen.

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"Things kind of blew up late,'' Twins manager Paul Molitor said.

When the Rays made it 3-1 in the seventh with an RBI double from Wilson Ramos, who whacked a shoulder-high fastball over the head of right fielder Max Kepler, Gibson (1-1) was done.

Reliever Gabriel Moya then was touched for a two-run single to Denard Span, followed by C.J. Cron's second two-run homer of the night, capping a five-run seventh inning.

Afterward, Moya was optioned to Triple-A Rochester to make room on the roster for right-hander Phil Hughes, who starts Sunday afternoon.

The Twins managed just one run, scoring almost immediately when Brian Dozier led off the game with a double, advanced to third on a grounder, then came home on Miguel Sano's sacrifice fly. It extended Dozier's hitting streak to 15 games, tying a club record for the longest hitting streak to start a season.

Video: MIN@TB: Dozier extends hitting streak with a double

After that, the Twins got only one other runner to third against dominant left-handed starter Blake Snell and reliever Matt Andriese.

"I'm definitely not going to be the one to mention not getting run support,'' said Gibson, who allowed five hits over 6 1/3 innings, walking one and striking out seven. "I've been supported quite a bit the last year and a half. Sometimes, you run into a couple of tough stretches. Our offense will figure it out.''

Molitor is counting on that.

"We have to be patient,'' Molitor said. "We have a lot of good hitters, people who we believe in offensively. We're coming off a stretch where we saw a couple of really good pitchers in Puerto Rico [against the Indians], then you get [Chris] Archer and Snell.

"We're going to see good pitching throughout the trip. You hope the repetition factor will play in and these guys will get a feel and we'll put numbers on the board.''

For much of his outing, Gibson was engaged in a pitchers' duel with Snell. He fell behind after giving up a two-run homer on an 0-2 changeup to Cron in the third, but preserved the one-run deficit until the seventh.

"The one pitch I'd like to have back is the Cron changeup,'' Gibson said. "I didn't get it down enough. Maybe in that situation, he was looking for it. It was off the plate. He likes the ball down and in. I have to do a better job of missing down.''

Video: MIN@TB: Sano drives in first run on sac fly to right

Gibson was haunted by another 0-2 offering in the seventh. With one out, Joey Wendle launched a triple over the head of center fielder Ryan LaMarre. Then Ramos, after missing on two breaking balls, produced an RBI double to make it 3-1.

"[Ramos] is a guy we try to elevate with two strikes,'' Gibson said. "If I can find a fault in it, it might've been 6 inches too much outside, instead of over the plate. He got a ball off the shoulder. I'm going to do that again if I face him again. I don't know that it was a lack of execution.''

"I thought Gibby's execution of pitches was really good,'' Molitor said. "He was economical. He pitch count was down. He just missed on a couple of 0-2 pitches.''

After taking the early 1-0 lead, the Twins mostly went quiet against Snell, who allowed five hits over seven innings. In the eighth, facing Andriese, Kepler and LaMarre led off with singles, but Dozier struck out and Joe Mauer hit into a double play.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Twins had a great opportunity in the seventh when Robbie Grossman led off with a double, then was bunted to third by Eddie Rosario. Mitch Garver punched a soft popper that looked like it could fall in the shallow outfield, but Wendle sprinted for an over-the-shoulder catch, then pivoted and delivered a perfect throw home, keeping Grossman at third. Ehire Adrianza struck out, ending the threat.

Video: MIN@TB: Wendle makes a nice over-the-shoulder catch

SOUND SMART
The defeat marked the end of a solid road swing for Gibson. He had won four consecutive decisions on the road -- and the Twins had gone 6-0 in those starts -- dating back to Aug. 11.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Adrianza put on a clinic early with three excellent deep-in-the-hole plays. The most spectacular occurred in the third inning when he robbed Span of a hit. Adrianza dove to stop the ball, propped himself up by balancing on his right knee, then threw out Span on one hop, aided by a nifty scoop from Mauer.

Video: MIN@TB: Adrianza robs Span with spectacular play

HE SAID IT
"Snow and rain are going to play a lot of tricks on rotations. I touched the mound a few times [during the gap]. I told them, 'Whenever you need me to throw, I'll throw.' I felt good.''
-- Gibson, on his first appearance since April 11

UP NEXT
Molitor can make some concrete plans after the Rays announced that rather than a "bullpen day," right-hander Yonny Chirinos (0-1, 2.70 ERA) will start Sunday's 12:10 p.m. CT contest. Minnesota will counter in the series finale with Hughes, who is making his first start this season after being out since March 29 with a left oblique strain.

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

Minnesota Twins

1st-frame 2B earns Dozier piece of Twins history

Second baseman's hitting streak now at 15 games, tying club record
Special to MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Twins second baseman Brian Dozier extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a leadoff double Saturday night during a 10-1 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field.

The knock handed Dozier a share of the club record hitting streak to start the season, along with Kirby Puckett (1994) and Josh Willingham (2012). Dozier has now hit safely in 22 consecutive games, dating back to Sept. 22.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Twins second baseman Brian Dozier extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a leadoff double Saturday night during a 10-1 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field.

The knock handed Dozier a share of the club record hitting streak to start the season, along with Kirby Puckett (1994) and Josh Willingham (2012). Dozier has now hit safely in 22 consecutive games, dating back to Sept. 22.

View Full Game Coverage

"I am liking his approach," Twins manager Paul Molitor said.

Dozier added a third-inning single to finish 2-for-4. He's hitting .376 (35-for-93) during the streak.

Meanwhile, Twins first baseman Joe Mauer went 0-for-4 to snap his on-base streak against the Rays at 27 games. It was the first time he had not reached base against Tampa Bay since Aug. 11, 2012, at Target Field.

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

Minnesota Twins, Brian Dozier

Buxton's migraines ebb long enough for BP

Special to MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Twins outfielder Byron Buxton, who went on the 10-day disabled list with migraines during the club's trip to Puerto Rico, took batting practice prior to Saturday night's game against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

"I feel like I'm well enough to go out there and take BP,'' Buxton said. "It's moreso the pounding [that's still there], but the blurriness and the dizziness [have subsided].

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Twins outfielder Byron Buxton, who went on the 10-day disabled list with migraines during the club's trip to Puerto Rico, took batting practice prior to Saturday night's game against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

"I feel like I'm well enough to go out there and take BP,'' Buxton said. "It's moreso the pounding [that's still there], but the blurriness and the dizziness [have subsided].

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"I probably slept 40 hours the last few days. Flying from Puerto Rico to here wasn't very pleasant. It's just unpredictable. Usually, I can tolerate them a little more to not affect me on the field. But this one [was intense] and when I heard the pounding of the music, that's what really kicked it in."

Twins manager Paul Molitor, while granting that he can't predict the severity of migraines, said he was encouraged.

"It's another day moving in the right direction,'' Molitor said. "Sometimes, they come quickly or so I'm told. When the DL was recommended as a likely scenario on the first day, that tells you [about the intensity]."

Hughes ready
Phil Hughes, out since Spring Training with a left oblique strain, will get his first Twins start since May 21 on Sunday afternoon against the Rays. Following Saturday's 10-1 loss to the Rays, the Twins announced they had activated the right-hander. To clear room on the 25-man roster, left-hander Gabriel Moya was optioned to Triple-A Rochester. 

Video: MIN@PIT: Hughes strikes out the side in the 2nd

Hughes, who had each of his past two seasons cut short by treatment for thoracic outlet syndrome, made two rehabilitation starts at Class A Advanced Fort Myers, where he went 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA and his velocity hit 94 mph.

"I'm really excited," Hughes said. "I want to get out there and hopefully make it a good one. It has been tough, but I'm trying not to think about what happened in the past. It has been a long road. "I felt really good [in the rehab outings]. I had a full Spring Training, so I got reps there. I know I'll have some nerves, but I'm not sure what impact that will have. I'm definitely anxious, because it has been a while for me being in this kind of competitive environment."

Injury notes
• Right-hander Trevor May (surgery on right ulnar collateral ligament), on the 60-day DL since Feb. 19, threw two days of batting practice and is continuing a long toss program. Molitor said he's not certain when May will be ready for a rehabilitation assignment.

• Right-hander Michael Pineda (surgery on right ulnar collateral ligament) is also doing long toss and will be examined in Minnesota when the Twins return home next weekend.

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

Minnesota Twins, Byron Buxton

Lewis among top prospect performers

Braves right-hander fires six dominant frames
MLB.com @GoldenSombrero

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Saturday.

Kyle Wright had shown flashes of excellence early in his first Double-A campaign before putting it all together Saturday night in his finest performance as a pro.

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Saturday.

Kyle Wright had shown flashes of excellence early in his first Double-A campaign before putting it all together Saturday night in his finest performance as a pro.

Wright, Atlanta's No. 2 prospect (No. 30 overall), turned in a career-long outing, tossing six-plus scoreless innings of one-hit ball to lead Double-A Mississippi past Mobile, 3-1. He issued two walks and struck out four, throwing 52 of his 84 pitches for strikes.

The two-out hit Wright allowed in the first inning was the only real blemish in his performance. He proceeded to retire 15 of the next 16 batters before departing the game in the seventh inning, after he had issued a leadoff walk to Matt Thaiss (Angels' No. 9). A pair of M-Braves relievers handled the final three innings to help secure Wright's first win at the Double-A level.

Wright retires 15 of 16 batters

The 2017 first-rounder (No. 5 overall pick) scuffled in his previous turn, allowing four earned runs in just one inning after posting 7 2/3 scoreless frames across his first two M-Braves starts. Overall, Wright, 22, owns a 2.45 ERA on the season, with 14 strikeouts and nine walks in 14 2/3 innings.

Austin Riley (Braves' No. 8, No. 97 overall) did his part to support Wright's cause by going 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI. The 21-year-old third baseman is already up to eight doubles this season in 16 games, during which he's hitting .386/.435/.754 with 11 runs scored and 14 RBIs.

The rest of the best performances from top prospects Saturday

No. 15 overall prospect Mitch Keller (Pirates' No. 1) completed a season-high seven innings to pick up his second win for Double-A Altoona. The 22-year-old right-hander wasn't at his sharpest, allowing three earned runs on six hits and three walks, though he still struck out seven and generated another eight outs on the ground. Jason Martin (No. 22) delivered his first home run, a two-run shot in the second inning, and later added a double to finish the game 3-for-4 with three runs.

No. 20 overall prospect Royce Lewis (Twins' No. 1) lifted his average from .222 to .323 for Class A Cedar Rapids behind a perfect 4-for-4 performance. The four hits, all singles, matched the 2017 No. 1 overall Draft pick's career-high mark. He also scored two runs and swiped his second base as the Kernels fell to Kane County, 9-2.

Lewis notches fourth hit

No. 25 overall prospect Brendan McKay (Rays' No. 3) fired four scoreless innings, allowing two hits and no walks with seven strikeouts in a no-decision for Class A Bowling Green. He threw 84.4 percent of his pitches (38 of 45) for strikes in the dominant performance and now owns a 2.00 ERA with 15 strikeouts and four hits allowed in nine innings (three starts) this season. At the plate, meanwhile, the two-way star is hitting .346/.546/.385 with 10 RBIs and an absurd 13-to-3 walk-to-strikeout ratio.

• There's no stopping No. 29 overall prospect Juan Soto. The Nationals' No. 2 prospect belted his fifth home run, a three-run shot, as well as his third triple as he recorded multiple hits for the fourth time in five games for Class A Hagerstown. Through 15 games, the 19-year-old outfielder is slashing .389/.507/.870 with 13 extra-base hits, 24 RBIs and more walks (15) than strikeouts (11).

Soto crushes three-run homer

No. 74 overall prospect Jon Duplantier (D-backs' No. 1) worked five strong innings as he picked up the win for Jackson in his season debut. It also marked the Double-A debut for the 23-year-old righty, who allowed two earned runs on four hits and one walk while striking out six. The 2017 MLB Pipeline Pitcher of the Year had opened the season on the disabled list with a hamstring injury.

Duplantier fans six in AA debut

No. 96 overall prospect Brandon Woodruff (Brewers' No. 3) allowed just one earned run while completing at least five innings for a third straight start for Triple-A Colorado Springs. The 25-year-old righty tallied a season-high seven strikeouts while scattering three hits with one walk in five innings. He's pitched to a 1.65 ERA in 16 1/3 innings since being demoted to Triple-A on April 7.

• After giving up a combined 19 hits in his previous two starts, Marlins No. 13 prospect Zac Gallen allowed just four hits in seven scoreless innings Saturday as Triple-A New Orleans defeated Oklahoma City, 2-0. The 22-year-old righty compiled five strikeouts against three walks in the outing while finding the strike zone with 58 of his 91 pitches. Gallen has completed at least six innings in three of his four starts this season.

Gallen strikes out five

Padres No. 11 prospect Esteury Ruiz and Tirso Ornelas (No. 14) both connected on their second home run of 2018 and collected three hits as Class A Fort Wayne defeated Dayton, 8-2. Ruiz, 19, hit a two-run shot in the sixth inning before finishing 3-for-5, while the 18-year-old Ornelas finished 3-for-4 after hitting a three-run homer in his first at-bat. Leadoff man Jeisson Rosario (No. 18) paced the TinCaps with three runs as he improved his average to .310 with his second multi-hit game in as many days.

Pirates No. 16 prospect Calvin Mitchell boosted his average to .371 with his fourth straight multi-hit game for Class A West Virginia. The 2017 second-rounder tallied his third triple this season before finishing with four hits and four RBIs, both matching his career bests. Braeden Ogle (No. 28) paced the Power on the mound, tossing six innings of one-run ball with eight strikeouts in the 13-8 victory. He allowed six hits and walked three, throwing 54 of his 87 pitches for strikes in the outing.

Red Sox No. 15 prospect Jalen Beeks piled up 10 strikeouts in six scoreless innings as Triple-A Pawtucket blanked Gwinnett, 6-0. The 24-year-old left-hander allowed two hits, two walks and hit one batter while throwing 59 of his 98 pitches for strikes. Beeks has dominated early this season, posting a 0.64 ERA with 26 strikeouts and five walks in 14 innings (three starts).

Beeks strikes out 10

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

Late rally for naught after bullpen falters

Twins players eager to move forward after emotionally-draining defeat
Special to MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- It was an unlikely comeback, followed by an apparent dramatic game-winner, then a ninth-inning gut-punch. Ultimately, it was a 10th-inning defeat -- by an inch.

The Twins experienced all of that during Friday night's emotionally draining 8-7 loss against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- It was an unlikely comeback, followed by an apparent dramatic game-winner, then a ninth-inning gut-punch. Ultimately, it was a 10th-inning defeat -- by an inch.

The Twins experienced all of that during Friday night's emotionally draining 8-7 loss against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

View Full Game Coverage

"Sometimes baseball just isn't fair,'' Twins outfielder Max Kepler said.

It looked like an 11th inning was necessary when Denard Span's two-out hard grounder was speared by diving first baseman Joe Mauer, who sprang up and underhanded it to reliever Zach Duke, covering on the play.

But first-base umpire James Hoye ruled that Span was safe, allowing pinch-runner Johnny Field to score from second base with a head-first slide. It went to replay. With both teams on the field, uncertain of the outcome, the call was upheld and the Twins had a bitter defeat.

"We couldn't tell from the dugout whether he dragged his foot or missed it, or got it on the second clip,'' Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Our people said it was inconclusive. It was just a tough way to lose.''

"I felt I got a piece of the base,'' Duke said. "But apparently they didn't see it on the replay, so it doesn't matter that much. It's tough. I need to do a better job of touching the base.''

It spoiled a riveting comeback by the Twins, who rallied from a 6-2 deficit to tie in the eighth on Eddie Rosario's two-out, two-strike grand slam off reliever Sergio Romo.

The Twins put themselves in position to win when Kepler hit a one-out solo home run off reliever Ryan Yarbrough in the ninth inning.

Video: MIN@TB: Kepler crushes a go-ahead solo homer in 9th

"Yeah, that could've been [the game-winner], but that's baseball,'' Kepler said. "Sometimes, you hit a line drive off a guy who's throwing 100 [mph], but it's right at somebody. It doesn't seem fair. But in this game, things don't always work out for you. It's rough because we did a lot tonight.''

Just not quite enough.

Twins closer Fernando Rodney blew the save opportunity. Rays first baseman Brad Miller smacked a two-out RBI single, which bounced off the mound and glanced off the glove of leaping shortstop Eduardo Escobar, forcing extra innings.

"Fernando has been throwing the ball pretty well,'' Molitor said. "He just hasn't had a lot of luck.''

Twins starter Lance Lynn didn't have much luck either. Making his third start of the season after signing as a free agent on March 12, Lynn allowed five earned runs and five walks in six innings.

"I've got to cut down on the walks,'' Lynn said. "I don't know if it has ever been April 20 and I'm making my third start [referring to the Twins' four postponements]. It's kind of playing catchup. But I think I found the rhythm to go to the next one.''

The Rays began taking command on a two-run double by Span, providing a 3-2 fifth-inning advantage. Span helped to pad that lead with an RBI single to highlight a three-run seventh.

The 6-2 advantage wasn't enough for the Rays. The Twins loaded the bases with one out, but Romo struck out Miguel Sano. With an 0-2 count, Romo's 74-mph slider was lifted into the right-field bleachers by Rosario.

"We did a lot to get back into the game and it looked like we had control of it,'' Molitor said. "Then it got away.''

The Twins opened the scoring on Logan Morrison's solo homer in the second off Chris Archer. It was hisfirst homer for the Twins and it came against the team he played for in 2016-17. The Twins took a 2-1 lead in the fifth on Robbie Grossman's RBI grounder.

Video: MIN@TB: Morrison belts solo homer in return to Trop

The Rays then took command. But that merely set the stage for the frantic finish.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Rodney was one out away from locking down a 7-6 victory after striking out Span and C.J. Cron in the ninth inning. But Rodney hit Carlos Gomez, who then stole second. "I'm not big on an intentional walk with my closer out there,'' Molitor said. So the Twins opted to face Miller, who delivered a game-tying single that hit the mound and glanced off the glove of Escobar.

SOUND SMART
Mauer, who drew an eighth-inning walk off Romo, has reached base in 27 straight games against the Rays. At Tropicana Field, he has reached base safely in 35 of 36 games.

HE SAID IT
"There's an awful lot to absorb in this game, almost too much. At the end of the day, we have to move on from it. That's what we intend to do. Tomorrow's another day.'' -- Kepler.

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
What else? The play that decided the game. With two outs in the 10th, Span's grounder was gobbled up by a diving Mauer at first base. Mauer underhanded to Duke, who was covering. But first-base umpire Hoye called Span safe, ruling that Duke's right foot didn't touch the bag. The call on the field was upheld by replay after a 2 minute, 16 second review.

Video: MIN@TB: Field scores winning run on error in 10th

 UP NEXT
The Twins will try to solve Rays left-hander Blake Snell (2-1, 2.95 ERA) in Saturday night's game. Snell has been proficient at getting swings and misses in two career starts against the Twins -- 14 strikeouts against just two walks in 9 1/3 innings -- but he has a 6.75 ERA in those outings. The Twins counter with right-hander Kyle Gibson (1-0, 3.68). The Twins have a 21-9 record at Tropicana Field over the past eight seasons.

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

Minnesota Twins, Eddie Rosario

Rosario socks 3rd career grand slam

Special to MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Twins left fielder Eddie Rosario said he was sitting on a slider. He guessed correctly, and it produced one of the biggest hits of his career.

Rosario collected a two-out, two-strike, game-tying grand slam off Rays reliever Sergio Romo. However, it eventually became a footnote in the Rays' 8-7 victory in 10 innings at Tropicana Field.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Twins left fielder Eddie Rosario said he was sitting on a slider. He guessed correctly, and it produced one of the biggest hits of his career.

Rosario collected a two-out, two-strike, game-tying grand slam off Rays reliever Sergio Romo. However, it eventually became a footnote in the Rays' 8-7 victory in 10 innings at Tropicana Field.

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But Rosario's dramatic homer, struck when the Twins trailed 6-2, still loomed large in both clubhouses after the game.

Grand slams mean 40% off pizza

"He was out in front on the first two pitches [strikes],'' Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We always tell everybody to slow down in that situation. Those are the moments when you need to be the calmest. He finally stayed back and hit it over the fence. That was a great moment.''

"Sergio Romo has done this a long time,'' Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We have all the confidence in the world that he's going to get through that inning. It just didn't happen. Credit Rosario for going down and getting the pitch.''

Rosario said he knew Romo's best pitch was a slider. He expected it, and waited for the right moment.

"I kept waiting and waiting,'' Rosario said. "I stayed in the zone and got it. It's very disappointing not to win. It was a good moment, but I wish we could've won the game.''

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

Minnesota Twins, Eddie Rosario

LoMo hits 1st Twins HR in return to The Trop

Special to MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Designated hitter Logan Morrison was Friday night's homecoming king, picking a perfect spot to hit his first home run for the Twins. He launched a solo shot into the right-field bleachers in the second inning of an 8-7, 10-inning loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field, where he played during the 2016-17 seasons.

"Nice to see him get on track,'' Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We know he can do it.''

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Designated hitter Logan Morrison was Friday night's homecoming king, picking a perfect spot to hit his first home run for the Twins. He launched a solo shot into the right-field bleachers in the second inning of an 8-7, 10-inning loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field, where he played during the 2016-17 seasons.

"Nice to see him get on track,'' Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We know he can do it.''

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Morrison did plenty last season for the Rays, where he produced 38 homers and 85 RBIs in 2017. He received a friendly ovation from the fans when he was introduced.

Actually, any place (or any time) would have been the perfect situation for Morrison to break out, since he entered Friday night's game with an .068 batting average, the lowest in the Major Leagues among qualified players.

"He has been working at it," Molitor said before the game. "I think he's getting close. Anybody who gets off to a slow start has to deal with the mental as well as the physical. He keeps grinding."

Morrison has been known for slow starts. He has a career .215 batting average in April, and he batted just .100 in 19 April games with Tampa Bay.

"When I first got here [with the Rays], it wasn't good, but I got through that," Morrison said before the game. "You just keep going. You don't give up, and good things can happen.

"I have good memories of being here. When you look at the numbers, I didn't hit [as many homers] here, at least like I did on the road. I can't say I'm really comfortable here in this stadium. But I had a nice time here, and I'll always remember this place.''

Friday night provided one more fond memory.

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

Minnesota Twins, Logan Morrison

Weather has been Twins' biggest hurdle

Players' routines interrupted by frigid temps, 4 postponements early
Special to MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Given the frigid, uncertain and start-and-stop nature of the Twins' early season schedule, the team was especially grateful for one aspect of Friday night's game against the Rays.

The roof at Tropicana Field.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Given the frigid, uncertain and start-and-stop nature of the Twins' early season schedule, the team was especially grateful for one aspect of Friday night's game against the Rays.

The roof at Tropicana Field.

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The Twins came into Friday with just 13 games played -- four postponed by weather -- including one that was played in 29-degree temperatures. A normal baseball routine would be welcomed.

"It's probably been as strange a start to a season as I can recall,'' Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It'll be good to get in more of an established pattern.

"We have 13 games recorded, but it still feels like we're trying to get ready. It's that kind of feeling.''

A strange feeling.

"Baseball is all about routine, routine, routine,'' Twins second baseman Brian Dozier said. "Off-days are great in the big leagues, but they can also [stink]. You might play 20 straight games, have an off-day, then feel like your timing isn't great when you come back.

"So to play a few [in a row], yes, that helps.''

Ex-Rays come back positive
Several Twins built great memories at Tropicana Field with the Rays. First baseman Logan Morrison played two seasons (2016-17) with the Rays, registering 38 home runs and 85 RBIs in his final season. Right-hander Jake Odorizzi was traded to the Twins during Spring Training. Right-hander Fernando Rodney was the Rays' closer from 2012-13. Bench coach Derek Shelton was the Rays' hitting coach from 2010-16.

Video: HOU@MIN: Morrison's single drives in Rosario

Morrison said it was a happy return.

"I'm a little tired because it was a longer walk [to the visiting clubhouse],'' Morrison said with a smile. "I had to get my hamstring worked on when I got in here.

"But really, it's great. Lots of good memories here. It's a little strange to come back, but it's nice to see the guys again.''

Injury updates
• Molitor said outfielder Byron Buxton, who went on the 10-day disabled list with migraines, was doing better as of Friday.

"There has been slight improvement,'' Molitor said. "We hope to see him out here at some point. [It is] to be determined when he starts doing some light work -- non-baseball related. But it's good that he's doing better.''

• Twins center fielder Max Kepler, who left the 16-inning win against the Indians in Puerto Rico early with a right knee injury, was back in the lineup and pronounced himself healthy.

"I blame it on the turf,'' Kepler said. "My knee locked up. I think it happened over time. Playing on turf for one game is like the equivalent of a week [on grass]. It just doesn't give as much as grass. I just have to stay loose and take care of my [knee]. I think I'll be fine.''

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

Minnesota Twins

Checking in on AL Central new guys: LoMo

MLB.com @FlannyMLB

KANSAS CITY -- New faces abound in the American League Central in 2018, some young and some old. And we're not talking about Frosty the Snowman, who has made an appearance in every AL Central park from Detroit to Kansas City here in April.

Let's go around the horn in the AL Central and check out the new guys.

KANSAS CITY -- New faces abound in the American League Central in 2018, some young and some old. And we're not talking about Frosty the Snowman, who has made an appearance in every AL Central park from Detroit to Kansas City here in April.

Let's go around the horn in the AL Central and check out the new guys.

Indians
Who's the new guy?
First baseman Yonder Alonso

Video: CLE@MIN: Alonso homers to right field, call confirmed

How's it going so far? Through 16 games, Alonso has a .196/.274/.375 slash line to go with three home runs and nine RBIs. Like most of the Indians' lineup, Alonso's slow start was impacted by an extremely cold stretch of games in Cleveland.

What's on deck? Alonso's .195 batting average on balls in play is the ninth-lowest mark in the AL. That, combined with other peripheral statistics, indicate a positive regression is coming.

Number to know: 8. Alonso is one of 16 players in MLB with at least eight barrels, per Statcast™..

Royals
Who's the new guy?
Rookie left-hander Tim Hill

Video: CWS@KC: Hill fans Sanchez to record first strikeout

How's it going so far? Incredibly well. Hill perhaps was a long shot to make the 25-man roster entering Spring Training, but his funky sidearm delivery caught the coaching staff's eyes immediately. Hill's fastball sits around 91-92 mph, and extensive work on his slider ("It's still improving," manager Ned Yost said.) this spring is paying off, as AL hitters are still somewhat baffled by his repertoire.

What's on deck? More high-leverage situations. As the rest of the Royals' bullpen wobbles, Hill and closer Kelvin Herrera have been Yost's most reliable go-to guys. Yost and his staff had been hoping to bring Hill along slowly, but now Kansas City may have no choice but to use Hill from the eighth inning on.

Number to know: 0. That's the number of hits Hill has given up in his first seven appearances.

Tigers
Who's the new guy?
Leonys Martin

Video: DET@CLE: Martin cranks solo HR over right-field wall

How's it going so far? Martin has filled the leadoff and center-field roles surprisingly well, covering more range in the gaps at Comerica Park than probably anybody since Austin Jackson's rookie year. Offensively, Martin scored nine runs in his first 14 games, including the go-ahead tally Tuesday after reaching base on a bunt single.

What's on deck? Martin is in line to get close to everyday playing time in center now that JaCoby Jones is getting the bulk of the starts in left. With Dixon Machado having cooled off from his start, Martin is safe in the leadoff spot for the near future.

Number to know 5. Those are the Outs Above Average Martin earned in about a half-season of playing time last year between the Mariners and Cubs. He's on track to top that in Detroit.

Twins
Who's the new guy?
Designated hitter/first baseman Logan Morrison

Video: MIN@PIT: Morrison scores Sano on an RBI double

How's it going so far? Morrison has struggled offensively so far since signing a one-year deal in Spring Training. He was brought in to be a power bat from the left side after a breakout year with the Rays last year, when he clubbed 38 home runs. Morrison has yet to break out of his slump this season, and he has produced only one extra-base hit (a double) in 44 at-bats this season.

What's on deck? The Twins believe Morrison will get it going offensively based on his track record, so he'll continue to be the everyday designated hitter and backup to Joe Mauer at first base. Morrison has also had to adjust to playing in cold weather early this season, so the hope is his bat will heat up with the weather.

Number to know: 3. The number of hits for Morrison in his first 12 games with Minnesota.

White Sox
Who's the new guy?
Right-hander Bruce Rondon

Video: DET@CWS: Rondon strikes out Cabrera swinging in 8th

How's it going so far? The hard-throwing right-hander came up from Triple-A Charlotte to replace an ineffective Juan Minaya in Chicago's bullpen and has been unhittable in a small sample size. Rondon's 100 mph velocity and a sharp slider to go with it gives the White Sox a potential closer, or at least another late-inning option.

What's on deck? Look for Rondon to continue getting late-inning, high-leverage opportunities, although the White Sox have Nate Jones and Joakim Soria in place in the closer's role. At 27, Rondon could be a newfound part of the rebuild, or he could end up being a great trade chip if he continues pitching well.

Number to know: 5. Rondon struck out the first five batters he faced this season, including his old friend and Detroit teammate Miguel Cabrera, who gave Rondon a knowing wink after a slider got him

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Yonder Alonso, Tim Hill, Leonys Martin, Logan Morrison, Bruce Rondon