MINNEAPOLIS-- After a 120 minutes rain delay, the Tampa Bay Rays started a four game road series losing to the Minnesota Twins 5-1 on Thursday night. Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson struck out 9 batters in eight innings while Rays lefty Blake Snell, who entered the game 8-1 with a 1.27 ERA in his last 10 starts, threw 75 pitches & allowed three runs in just three innings, his shortest outing of the year.
Tampa Bay had the first chance to score runs in the game when with two outs leftfielder Jake Bauers singled to left & catcher Wilson Ramos reached on an infield single. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch by Gibson but designated hitter Ji-Man Choi struck out to end the threat.
The Twins threatened in their half of the first inning but even though it took Snell 30 pitches to get out of the inning & he walked two batters, Minnesota failed to score.
The Rays were sent down in order in both the top of the second & third inning, as Gibson threw 40 total pitches in the first three innings. Meanwhile the Twins scored a run in the bottom of the second when centerfielder Max Kepler led off the inning with a walk, took third when third baseman Ehire Adrianza singled & then scored when catcher Bobby Wilson hit into a double play started by shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria.
The Twins added to their 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third when right-fielder Robbie Grossman & shortstop Jorge Polanco hit back to back run scoring doubles after second baseman Brian Dozier led off the inning with a single to center.
Snell, who came into the game having allowed just five hits this season with runners in scoring position, was able to get out of the third without any further damage, stranding Polanco at third. But the inning would be the last for the Rays starter. And Snell left the game after allowing three runs on five hits, walking three & striking out two batters in his shortest outing of the year.
Meanwhile Gibson had a handle on every Rays batter not named Bauers or Ramos. The Twins starter worked 1-2-3 innings in four of the eight innings he pitched. And in three of the four innings that the Rays did not go down in the order, Bauers or Ramos were the reason why, as four of the five hits Gibson allowed were by the Rays leftfielder or catcher.
The Twins picked up two more runs in the bottom of the seventh when left-fielder Eddie Rosario touched up Rays reliever Chih-Wei Hu for a two-run home run. Hu, who relieved Snell & pitched five innings, was one of the few bright spots for the Rays.
The Rays avoided the shutout & scored their lone run in the eighth inning when center-fielder Kevin Kiermaier hit a sacrifice fly to center-field, scoring Hechavarria.
The Rays, who had their five game winning streak snapped on Thursday, look to start a new winning streak on Friday. Righty Nathan Eovaldi (3-3 3.35) gets the start for the visitors while the Twins will send Jake Odorizzi (4-6 4.28) to the mound to face his former team. Coverage starts on 620 WDAE with The Inside Pitch at 7pm with Steve Carney & first pitch is at 8:10pm.