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Milone falls apart in the middle innings, Rays beat Twins 5-4

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Twins drop the last game of the road trip.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

For a while it looked like the Twins were going to pull off another sweep. Imagine that: a team so impossibly mired in the hunt for October is really struggling on the road, yet fights back after a tough Yankees series to sweep their next two opponents over seven games. It would have been awesome. But the Twins lost, and this road trip goes from awesome to merely "good."

In the big picture Minnesota went 6-4 on a very important stretch away from Target Field. Any team in baseball would take that mark. It means that the Twins, Rangers, and Angels all remain within a half game of each other for that second Wild Card spot, with the Rays and Orioles still very much in the hunt, and that's exciting.

Tommy Milone had a rough time in the middle innings last night. He was at his best in the third and fourth, but every other inning he had trouble with command or getting behind hitters or just throwing too many pitches. It really could have been worse. A walk, single, and home run in the first only led to two runs. A double and two singles only led to one run in the fifth. He put one two more runners in the sixth before Paul Molitor lifted him, and only one of them scored. Considering how good the Rays looked against Milone, they could have probably been up 7 or 8-4 instead of the 5-4 score we had.

Tampa's deciding run came off of a Neal Cotts slider that got under the heel of Kurt Suzuki's glove. It's a maddening way to see the game decided.

The highlight of the game was Miguel Sano bouncing a baseball off of the moon for a double.

That catwalk meant the Twins left the third inning tied 2-2 with the Rays instead of up at least 3-2. Granted, the Twins had six more innings to score enough runs to win, but who knows what would have happened if that kind of interference would be considered a home run...because that ball certainly wasn't going to stay in the park.

Minnesota did plate a run off of a Tampa Bay error, so there's a little balancing act there. Eduardo Escobar hit a big home run to straightaway center field, his third home run in two days. Other than Suzuki's passed ball the bullpen really picked it up for Milone, as Brian Boyer, Cotts, and Casey Fien combined for 2.2 innings of pretty good pitching. Fien has struck out just one batter in his last 6.1 innings, but as long as he's not giving up runs it's hard to care too much about that.

Brad Boxberger saved his 31st game, striking out the side: Suzuki, Eddie Rosario pinch hitting for Shane Robinson, and...Chris Herrmann pinch hitting for Byron Buxton. Whatever the hell that was about.

The Twins are 65-62, and are at home for three games against the 71-57 Astros. If you want a preview of the American League Championship Series that nobody outside of the midwest or Texas wants to watch, here's your chance.

ROLL CALL!

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COMMENT OF THE GAME THREAD

kenzertz: "I've enjoyed rooting for Mauer over the years, and will continue to do so."

STUDS

Blaine Boyer
Casey Fien
Eduardo Escobar

DUDS

Tommy Milone
Kurt Suzuki's glove
Pinch hitting Chris Herrmann for Byron Buxton