The Tampa Bay Rays needed 13 innings but defeated the Minnesota Twins by a final score of 4-3 to win their 7th game in row and improve to a season high 12 games over .500 at 52-70.
After Cesar Ramos (2-2, 4.20 ERA) escaped a jam in the top of the inning Ryan Pressly (2-1, 2.74 ERA) got himself into hot water in the bottom of the frame. After Yunel Escobar singled with 1-out Pressly attempted a pick off but his throw hit Escobar in the backside and bounded toward the Rays dugout allowing him to advance into scoring position.
The story of the game was the Rays pitching staff and especially their bullpen. Overall Rays pitchers struck out a season high 19 batters (while only walking 1) besting the season high mark of 18 strike outs set against the Padres on May 10th. It also sets the franchise record for strikeouts at Tropicana Field. The bullpen worked 7 scoreless innings allowing 6 hits, striking out 11 and walking 1.
It wasn’t just the Rays pitchers striking out the Twins. The Twins pitchers stuck out 16 Rays. The 35 combined strikeouts are the most in any Rays game in franchise history.
Jeremy Hellickson pitched the first 6 innings holding the Twins to 3R/ER on 6 hits striking out 8 and walking 0. He allowed a 2-run homer to the Twins #9 hitter Pedro Florimon and a bloop 2-out RBI single to Clete Thomas.
The Rays had many opportunities to put runs on the board as Desmond Jennings, Luke Scott, Wil Myers, and Kelly Johnson had 2-hits apiece and Luke Scott was on base 5 times (2-hits, 3 walks) but the offense uncharacteristically were unable to deliver hits with runners in scoring position.
The Rays offense entered the game with the 2nd best average in MLB with runners in scoring position at .291 behind only the St.Louis Cardinals at .338 but they were unable to capitalize on numerous opportunities. In the first inning James Loney struck out with runners at 2nd and 3rd, in the 2nd inning Desmond Jennings struck out with a runner at 2nd, and in the 7th inning Ben Zobrist struck out with Jennings at 3rd and only 1-out and Loney struck out to end the inning. Later in the 12th inning with 1-out Evan Longoria got himself into scoring position by stealing second base but Loney grounded out and Sam Fuld struck out.
The Rays were down 3-1 entering the bottom of the 6th but James Loney lined a single to lead off the inning and came home to score on Kelly Johnson‘s 13th home run of the season which tied the score at 3-3. The home run ended Twins starter Kevin Correia‘s evening.
With the game tied at 3-3 entering the 9th inning Fernando Rodney entered the game. Like last evenings game both Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau singled to lead off the inning. Rodney came back to strike out Ryan Doumit and Oswaldo Arcia and retired Aaron Hicks on a ground out to 2nd to end the inning.
The score remained tied into the bottom of the 11th inning and Swarzak retired the first two hitters but gave up a 2-out single to Desmond Jennings and was replaced by left hander Brian Duensing to face the left handed hitting Luke Scott who struck out to end the inning.
Kyle Farnsworth came in to work the 12th inning. After retiring Aaron Hicks to begin the inning Eduardo Escobar singled but Farnsworth came back to strike out both Pedro Florimon and Clete Thomas to end the inning.
Brian Duensing stayed on to work the 12th and retired Ben Zobrist to lead off the inning. Evan Longoria reached on an infield single and then did the improbable and stole his first base of the year. James Loney hit a 1-hopper back to the mound for the second out.
At this point strategy the cat and mouse game took over between the two managers. With 1st base open Ron Gardenhire elected to intentionally walk Wil Myers. Joe Maddon responded by sending Sean Rodriguez in to pinch hit for Kelly Johnson. As soon as Rodriguez was announced Gardenhire went to his bullpen and summoned right hander Ryan Pressly. Joe Maddon countered with Sam Fuld to pinch hit for Rodriguez and he struck out to end the inning.
Farnsworth stayed in and retired the first batter in the top of the 13th and was replaced by Cesar Ramos. Ramos gave up a single to Joe Mauer but retired Justin Morneau on a pop up to Ben Zobrist in short right field. With 2-out Ryan Doumit singled against the shift to move Mauer to 3rd base. Ramos didn’t give in and struck out Oswaldo Arcia to end the inning.
Ryan Pressly stayed in the game and retired Jose Lobaton to begin the bottom of the 13th but gave up a single to Yunel Escobar. After retiring Desmond Jennings on a soft fly ball to right Pressly’s pickoff attempt hit Escobar and bounded toward the Rays dugout allowing Escobar to move into scoring position.