Brian Dozier‘s tiebreaking two-run home run for Minnesota with two outs in the eighth inning followed a pitching change by Tampa Bay and spurred the Twins to a 5-3 victory Saturday afternoon over the Rays.
The Twins were 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position until Dozier stepped in against Tommy Hunter with a man on third. The 426-foot drive, Dozier’s seventh of the season, bounced off the ribbon videoboard between the upper and lower deck in right-center field.
Rays manager Kevin Cash swapped right-handed relievers, removing Danny Farquhar (2-2) so Hunter could face Dozier. The decision backfired, ending Farquhar’s streak of 16 consecutive scoreless appearances.
Mejia wasn’t as effective as last weekend during the doubleheader against Kansas City when he earned his first career victory, but he struck out six batters and finished five innings with the game tied. Tyler Duffey pitched two scoreless innings and Taylor Rogers (2-1) followed with a perfect eighth inning for the win.
Mejia was a little lucky to escape the second with an RBI single by Norris the only run against him. With the bases loaded and one out, a wild pitch ricocheted off the limestone backstop to catcher Chris Gimenez, who slid to snag the ball and throw sidearm to Mejia at the plate for the tag on Steven Souza Jr.
Rays starter Jake Odorizzi had his share of trouble, too.
He threw a season-high 118 pitches while failing to finish six innings for only the second time not for injury this year. The Twins loaded the bases with none out in the second inning and managed to tie the game on Ehire Adrianza‘s sacrifice fly. Then Odorizzi lost the lead again on Rosario’s homer in the fourth inning.
Derek Norris drove in two runs for the Rays, who had won three in a row.
With the lineup front-loaded with right-handers against the lefty Mejia, leading hitter Corey Dickerson had the day off. Rickie Weeks, who reached each of his first three times at-bat, took his spot as the designated hitter.
Eduardo Escobar played third for the Twins so Miguel Sano could try to recharge. The only other game this season that Sano didn’t start was May 9 due to a Major League Baseball suspension. Sano pinch-hit in the seventh inning and struck out for the eighth straight at-bat.
Rays: RHP Alex Cobb (4-4, 3.82 ERA) will pitch the series finale, with seven-plus innings completed in each of his last two turns. Cobb hadn’t accomplished that since Sept. 5 and 11, 2014, having missed 2015 and much of 2016 recovering from elbow-ligament replacement surgery.
Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (1-4, 8.62 ERA) will make his second start Sunday afternoon since being recalled from Triple-A. He recorded his first win of the season earlier this week, despite allowing six runs in five innings at Baltimore.
Republished with permission from the Associated Press.