Cruz homers in return to Minnesota; Rays rout Twins 10-4
Nelson Cruz homered in his return to Minnesota and the Tampa Bay Rays moved a season-high 26 games over .500 with a 10–4 win over the Twins on Friday night.
Cruz made his first appearance in Minnesota since being traded by the Twins to Tampa Bay on July 22. He hit 76 home runs for Minnesota over the last three seasons and was widely credited as a positive influence on his younger teammates.
Cruz received a loud, extended ovation and tipped his helmet to the crowd before his first at-bat. Michael Pineda then struck him out on three pitches.
In his next at-bat, Cruz sent a line drive into the left-field seats for his 24th home run of the season and fifth for the Rays. The homer prompted another ovation from the crowd. Cruz finished 2 for 4 with a walk and two runs scored.
Yandy Díaz, Mike Zunino and Kevin Kiermaier also homered for the Rays, maintained their five-game lead in the AL East.
Shane McClanahan (7-4) allowed two earned runs in 5 1/3 innings for his fourth win in his last five starts. Evan Phillips worked the final three innings, allowing one run for his first save of the season.
The Twins threatened in the sixth inning as Miguel Sanó’s second RBI single of the game pulled them to within 6-3. But with the tying run at the plate, McClanahan struck out Trevor Larnach. Then, reliever Matt Wisler came on and got Ryan Jeffers to hit into a double play to end the inning.
The Rays then blew it open with a four-run seventh, keyed by Kevin Kiermaier’s two-run single.
Pineda (4-8) took the loss, allowing four earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. He left the game with an injury after throwing his first pitch to Díaz in the third inning. The Twins later announced he had tightness in his left side.
Brent Rooker went 4 for 5 with a home run for the Twins.
THEY’RE ON FIRE
According to STATS, the Rays are the third team in MLB’s modern era to score at least eight runs in seven straight games on the same road trip. The streak dates to the start of a three-game series at Baltimore on August 6 and includes three games at Boston.
The Rays matched the 1929 New York Giants. With two games left in the series, they have a chance to equal the record of nine straight by the 1930 Philadelphia A’s.
Rays: 1B Ji-Man Choi (hamstring) was available to come off the bench Friday after sitting out Thursday’s series finale in Boston. … Díaz left the game in the sixth inning with an injury to his left hand. A throw from third baseman Joey Wendle was up the line and, as Díaz reached for it, baserunner Rob Refsnyder collided with Díaz’s glove.
Twins: CF Byron Buxton (hand) went through a full pregame workout, and Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said the team would be putting together a schedule for the next steps of his rehab this weekend.
The teams square off again on Saturday night. The Twins will send RHP Kenta Maeda (5-4, 4.69) to the mound. In his last outing, he allowed three earned runs over five innings in a victory over Houston on Sunday. The Rays have not named a starter.