Rays trip Twins to gain ground in Wild Card race
ST. PETERSBURG -- Joey Butler hit a game-tying single and scored on a passed ball to help the Rays snap a three-game losing streak with a 5-4 win over the Twins on Thursday night at Tropicana Field.
The Twins (65-62) entered the game tied with the Rangers for the second American League Wild Card spot and finished 6-4 on the road trip. By winning, the Rays (63-64) avoided a sweep while moving to within two games of the Twins in the Wild Card standings.
Butler, who was recalled from Triple-A Durham prior to the game, drove home Logan Forsythe to tie the score at 4 in the sixth. He then scored what proved to be the decisive run when Twins reliever Neal Cotts delivered a pitch that got past catcher Kurt Suzuki with two out in the inning.
"It was just one of those games where we felt like we had our chances to add to our lead early after coming back from a two-run deficit, but we couldn't cash in any more," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "They just kind of shut us down."
The Twins built a 4-2 lead fueled by Miguel Sano's ground-rule double off the "B" ring catwalk in the third to drive home a run and Eduardo Escobar's homer in the fourth, giving him three home runs in two days. But the Rays' bullpen -- Brandon Gomes, Alex Colome and Brad Boxberger -- cobbled together 4 2/3 scoreless innings to preserve the win.
"Gomes, Colome and Box, just four really big innings," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Huge innings."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Sano's blast strikes catwalk: Sano crushed a high drive off Drew Smyly in the third, but had to settle for an RBI double, as it hit off the "B" ring and remained in play. It would have been a homer according to Statcast™, as the ball left Sano's bat at 111 mph and was projected to travel 409 feet from the plate. More >
"It is kind of what it is," Molitor said. "I'm sure over time they've concluded the ground rules that are in place are best suited for the facility that they have. You have to abide by them sometimes. Sometimes they go your way and sometimes it doesn't."
Good sign for Forsythe: Forsythe entered the game in the middle of a stretch where he hit .203 in his previous 20 home games. So seeing his 15th home run of the season clear the wall in left in the first was a welcome sight. Typical of the way things have been going for the Rays lately, the blast came with none on as Daniel Nava got thrown out on the bases trying to advance to second prior to Forsythe's blast. Forsythe later doubled in the sixth and scored a run to tie the score at 4.
Hold 'em up: Boos were heard when Rays third-base coach Charlie Montoyo held up the stop sign for Tim Beckham trying to score on Kevin Kiermaier's single to center with none out in the fifth. No doubt Montoyo did not want to see Beckham test center fielder Byron Buxton's strong arm. The patient approach paid off as the next hitter, J.P. Arencibia, drove home Beckham with a sacrifice fly to center.
Escobar stays hot: After registering his first multi-homer game on Wednesday, Escobar hit a solo blast to dead center to give the Twins the lead. It was his fourth homer over his last six games, and his eight blasts on the year is already a career high.
"Escobar, we're glad he's getting out of town," Cash said.
"If it wasn't a one-run game it wouldn't be so bad. But you have to let it go and move on and can't let it bother you. But it's a tough one." -- Suzuki, on the go-ahead passed ball
Twins: Right-hander Kyle Gibson will start against the Astros on Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT in the opener of a three-game set at Target Field. Gibson is seeking his first win since July 12, as he took a no-decision against the Orioles in his last outing on Saturday.
Rays: Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez will start the series opener against the Royals on Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET. At 10-4 on the season, Ramirez is the fourth Nicaraguan to win 10 games in a season, joining Dennis Martinez, Al Williams and Vicente Padilla. He also became the third Ray to reach 10 wins after he was acquired via trade, joining Mark Hendrickson (2004) and Matt Garza ('08).
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