Carlos Pena homered, tripled, and drove in three runs, as Tampa Bay took advantage of every chance they had in beating Minnesota 7-1 at the Metrodome. The Rays were 5-7 with runners in scoring position, including 3-4 with two out, while the Twins were a dreadful, punchless 0-9.
"Not much happened for our ballclub tonight," said Ron Gardenhire. "We just didn't do anything."
Scott Baker had just two bad innings, but they were bad enough to put the Twins in a hole right from the start. With two out in the first inning, Evan Longoria doubled down the left-field line. Pena immediately followed with a triple to right, as Michael Cuddyer's leap at the fence couldn't bring the ball down, and Pat Burrell singled off the left-field wall to make the game 2-0 before the Twins even came to the plate.
Baker settled down a bit, retiring ten in a row following Burrell's single, but ran into trouble again in the fifth inning. The Rays combined three singles with a walk and two wild pitches to manufacture two more runs.
Meanwhile, the middle of the Twins' lineup was busy wasting chance after chance to keep the game within reach. Jason Kubel and Joe Crede failed with a runner in scoring position in the first inning; Kubel and Justin Morneau both struck out in the third inning in the same situation, and Morneau lined to center in the seventh with yet another runner on second. Crede hit a solo home run for the Twins' only run, but he must share in the blame for the loss along with Kubel and Morneau.
In the eighth, Pena finished off his big day with a two-run homer off of RA Dickey, who threw a knuckler to the Rays slugger that did not knuckle. Jason Bartlett added a solo home run in the ninth, off of Juan Morillo, to finish Tampa's scoring.
The bases were full of white jerseys for most of the night, but all died where they were - while only one Rays baserunner got as far as second base but did not score. Waste not, want not, says the old proverb - one the Twins failed abjectly to follow, while Tampa Bay paid heed.
After the jump, the Twins' three stars for the game.
3. Denard Span
Singled and stole two bases - but popped out in the seventh with a runner on second.
2. Alexi Casilla
Casilla walked twice, but seemed to spend much of the night waiting forlornly for one of the high-paid bashers behind him to do something.
1. Scott Baker, Innings 2-4
Baker was bad in the first and fifth, but for three innings there, settled down and was much the pitcher we all expected. In retiring ten batters in a row, Baker racked up five strikeouts, and looked near-untouchable. Now, if he can just keep from going to pieces any time someone ends up on first base.