MINNESOTA 11, TAMPA BAY 6 IN TAMPA BAY
Date: Wednesday, May 7.
Batting stars: Dustan Mohr was 3-for-5. A. J. Pierzynski was 2-for-4 with a grand slam (his third homer), a double, and five RBIs. Bobby Kielty was 2-for-4 with a home run (his fifth), two runs, and two RBIs. Michael Cuddyer was 2-for-4 with a walk. Cristian Guzman was 2-for-5 with a stolen base. Corey Koskie was 2-for-5 with a stolen base, his second. Jacque Jones was 2-for-6 with a double.
Pitching stars: Juan Rincon pitched 3.1 scoreless innings of relief, giving up two hits and a walk and striking out one. LaTroy Hawkins struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up one hit. J. C. Romero struck out the side in a perfect inning.
Opposition stars: Rocco Baldelli was 3-for-5 with a double. Carl Crawford was 2-for-5 with a double. Aubrey Huff was 2-for-5 with a double. Travis Harper pitched 2.2 scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out one.
The game: For all the runs, the scoring was packed into a few big innings. The Twins started it with four in the first. With one out they put together six consecutive singles (Guzman, Koskie, Kielty, Torii Hunter, Mohr, and Michael Cuddyer) plus a sacrifice fly to score the runs. The Devil Rays loaded the bases in the bottom of the first when Baldelli singled, Huff doubled, and Travis Lee walked, but could only score once on a ground out, making the score 4-1.
It stayed 4-1 until the fourth, when Tampa Bay came storming back to take the lead. They started the inning with four singles of their own (Lee, Marlon Anderson, Toby Hall, and Al Martin) to score two runs. A bunt moved the runners up and a ground out scored a run, tying the score. Crawford then had an RBI double and Baldelli contributed a run-scoring single, giving the Devil Rays a 6-4 lead.
Their momentum lasted until the first batter of the next half-inning. Kielty led off the fifth with a home run to cut the margin to 6-5. Hunter walked, Mohr singled, and Cuddyer walked, loading the bases. Pierzynski then hit a grand slam to put the Twins in front 9-6. They weren't done in the inning, though. Chris Gomez singled and scored from first on a Jones double. Guzman then hit an RBI single to make the score 11-6.
And that's where it stayed. The Devil Rays put men on second and third with two out in the sixth, but did not score. That was their only real threat the rest of the game.
WP: Rincon (1-0). LP: Joe Kennedy (2-3). S: None.
Notes: Cuddyer was at first base in place of Doug Mientkiewicz. Gomez was at second in place of Luis Rivas. Kielty was the DH.
Mientkiewicz replaced Cuddyer at first base in the eighth inning.
Jones was batting .336. Kielty raised his average to .318.
Joe Mays started and did okay for three innings. His line, though was 3.2 innings, six runs, nine hits, and one walk. His ERA was 6.18. By game scores this was tied for his second-worst game of the season, topped (or bottomed) only by a start in Chicago on June 30.
On the other hand, Rincon lowered his ERA to 1.15 and Hawkins was at 1.64.
Tampa Bay's starter, Joe Kennedy, fared even worse than Mays. He pitched four innings and allowed ten runs on thirteen hits and two walks, striking out one. His game score was -5. It was, as you would expect, his worst start of the season.
This would be Cuddyer's last game before being sent down. Oddly, the Twins sent him down just as he was starting to get hot. He was 5-for-12 with a triple and three walks, raising his average from .197 to .233. He would hit .306 with an OPS of .827 in Rochester, but would not come back until September.
At this point in the season Koskie had more stolen bases than Guzman, 2 to 1. It would not stay that way, but the margin was not as big at the end of the season as you might think. Guzman led the team with 18 stolen bases, but Koskie was fourth with 11. Guzman was 18-for-27 while Koskie was 11-for-16. The Twins were seventh in the league in stolen bases with 94. The were fourth in caught stealing with 44.
The Twins had now won three in a row and seven of eight.
Record: The Twins were 17-15, in second place in the American League Central, 3.5 games behind Kansas City.