July 15, 2018 07:06 PM
Brian Dozier hit a grand slam in the 10th inning on Sunday to give the Minnesota Twins an 11-7 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays and cap a testy, back-and-forth finish that featured four lead changes from the bottom of the seventh on.
Jake Cave singled to start the 10th against Matt Andriese (2-4), the ninth pitcher for the Rays, and moved up on a stolen base and a sacrifice bunt. Manager Kevin Cash ordered two intentional walks to load the bases for force-out possibilities and brought left fielder Joey Wendle in for a five-man infield. Dozier squashed the strategy with his 16th home run of the season and the fourth walk-off win for the Twins.
***CLICK VIDEO BOX FOR POSTGAME INTERVIEWS WITH BRIAN DOZIER & PAUL MOLITOR***
Alan Busenitz (3-0) got the last four outs for the Twins, who headed into the All-Star break with a 9-2 record on their season-long homestand, which followed a 1-8 road trip. The Rays totaled 47 hits over the last three games of the four-game series but won only once.
Wendle's two-out single in the ninth off Trevor Hildenberger stretched out a game the Twins took control of in the bottom of the eighth on Eddie Rosario's two-out RBI single after Joe Mauer tied the game with a bases-loaded walk. The Twins were denied a second score on Rosario's hit when Cave was thrown out at the plate. The call was reviewed and upheld, though tough-to-tell replays appeared to reveal Cave's foot sliding underneath Jesus Sucre's tag.
Sucre hit a two-run double with two outs in the eighth for the Rays, who led 4-1 until the seventh inning on a steamy afternoon with even steamier exchanges between the two teams.
Robbie Grossman, who had an RBI single in the second inning off de facto starter Ryne Stanek, started the seventh with a single against Adam Kolarek. With two outs and two on, Rosario sneaked a single into left field to cut the deficit to 4-2.
Dozier greeted Diego Castillo with an RBI single by beating out a deep ground ball to third, and first baseman C.J. Cron's relay throw back to third skipped past Daniel Robertson for an error that let the Twins tie the game.
Then Dozier made Castillo flinch for a balk call, taking an animated jog down the line to the plate in hand-clapping celebration of the go-ahead run.
Eduardo Escobar was batting during the balk. Two bench-and-bullpen-emptying arguments later, Minnesota's third baseman was ejected for his role in the shouting matches that were profane but stayed punching-and-shoving-free.
After Robertson yelled at Escobar to return to the box after stepping out, Escobar started toward him with his own choice words and angry gestures. That brought everyone in uniform to the infield for the first not-so-cordial summer gathering, with pitcher Chris Archer the most obviously upset at Escobar from the Rays' side. Archer was on the mound Saturday when Rosario unsuccessfully tried to lure him into a balk.
Escobar struck out after the crowd was dispersed, and as the Rays infielders ran by him to the dugout he resumed airing his grievances. That triggered the second bench clearing and the first career ejection for Escobar. Sucre and Twins utility man Willians Astudillo, who was pitching on Saturday when Carlos Gomez admired a home run against him, shouted and gestured at each other during that scrum. Cash was an active participant in the yelling, too.
Stanek took his 12th turn as the opener, the role the Rays have employed 19 times this season since creating it to maximize matchups for their relievers. This was the first time in 11 uses the opener has allowed a run. Cash sent Hoby Milner, who arrived right before game time after being acquired in a trade with Philadelphia the day before, in for the third inning.
Twins manager Paul Molitor made an unorthodox pitching move, too, summoning closer Fernando Rodney with one out in the fifth to replace starter Fernando Romero. Rodney retired both batters he faced, but his early appearance forced Hildenberger into ninth-inning duty after allowing Sucre's double in the eighth.
RAYS GET THE ROLLS
All eight Rays batters in the second inning hit ground balls that headed toward second base, first base or in between at varying speeds and heights. Five of them went for singles and the Rays scored three times.
The Rays waited to place catcher Wilson Ramos on the disabled list, but Cash said he's bracing for an extended absence because of the pulled left hamstring that will cost him his first starting assignment at the All-Star game. Cron played first base instead of designated hitter so he could be the emergency catcher behind Sucre.
Rays: 3B Matt Duffy was scratched from the original lineup because of a sore right ankle he twisted during a swing in the game the day before as a precaution. Wendle played second base, and Robertson moved to third. Then Duffy pinch-hit in the eighth. He beat out an infield single, stole second base and scored the tying run.
Twins: RHP Ervin Santana pitched for Triple-A Rochester on Sunday, allowing four hits and three runs in 5 2/3 innings with one walk and seven strikeouts. Manager Paul Molitor said it's "very possible" Santana will make another rehab start before joining the rotation, about 6½ months after surgery on his middle finger.
Rays: With LHP Blake Snell on his way to Washington for the All-Star game, the rest of the team has a four-day break before beginning a series against Miami at home, where they've won 14 of their last 15 games. RHP Nathan Eovaldi (3-4, 4.59 ERA) pitches for the Rays on Friday, and RHP Dan Straily (3-4, 4.29 ERA) takes the mound for the Marlins.
Twins: While RHP Jose Berrios joins the American League All-Star team, the rest of the team has four days off before starting a series at Kansas City. RHP Kyle Gibson (4-6, 3.42 ERA) will pitch the opener, opposite Royals LHP Danny Duffy (5-8, 4.59 ERA).
Updated: July 15, 2018 07:06 PM
Created: July 15, 2018 06:22 PM
(Copyright 2018 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)