I haven't checked Inside Edge or FanGraphs, but I'm pretty sure that 100% of Tampa Bay's balls in play were well-struck today. Some of those innings it was like every ball the Rays hit was smashed - grounder, liner, fly ball...if they'd managed to pop one up I bet that would have been smashed, too.
Kyle Gibson didn't have his best stuff today, and often battled to get ahead in the count and to put hitters away. He fought through the first couple of innings but was already at 94 pitches by the time he finally ended the fifth. Honestly, his day could have been better if he'd had a bit more luck...but it could have been a lot worse, too. Trevor Plouffe and Brian Dozier each made nice plays to help keep the Rays off the board. It was 3-1 when Gibson turned the game over to his bullpen.
Minnesota's lone run came in the bottom of the first when Joe Mauer scored Dozier with a single into center. That gave the Twins a 1-0 lead, and, well, some days you're the ball.
Brian Duensing, Michael Tonkin, and Aaron Thompson were atrocious in relief. Duensing couldn't get more than a single out in the fifth, leaving the game having already allowed a run and with runners on base. Tonkin came on and let them both score and then allowed a pair of his own in a five-run sixth. Ryan Pressly actually kept the Rays off the board for two innings, which was today's rare bright spot. Aaron Thompson allowed four singles in a row to push Tampa into double digits. J.R. Graham came on and pitched well enough, but a James Loney ball snuck down the right field line for a double to score one of Thompson's runners.
Credit the Twins for not just phoning it in for the bottom of the ninth. Dozier cracked a single, Shane Robinson came in for a pinch-hit walk, and Doug Bernier lined into the right-center field gap to plate them both. But that was as far as the rally would go.
The Twins have two days off this week, both tomorrow and Thursday, but the team will head to Pittsburgh for a two-game set on Tuesday and Wednesday. As much of a downer as this game was, Minnesota still took two of three from a good Rays team and will hit the road with a 21-17 record. That's still pretty good.
ROLL CALL! (Top 5)
COMMENT OF THE GAME THREAD
Myjah: "Winning is weird. Fewer rally beer excuses."