ST. PETERSBURG — Roughly four hours before taking the field against his former team Friday, Rays outfielder Denard Span spoke admirably about the Minnesota Twins, their organization in general, even hometown icon Joe Mauer.
But business is business.
"I'm gonna try to kill them just like I try to kill any other team," he said.
Sure enough, Span was complicit in a Twin killing Friday evening, with a host of accomplices.
His 10th-inning, two-out grounder to first — ruled an error — scored pinch-runner Johnny Field from second and propelled the Rays to an 8-7 triumph before a Tropicana Field audience of 9,786.
Mauer, playing first base, fielded the grounder and flipped it to reliever Zach Duke, but umpires ruled Duke's foot never made it to the bag he was scurrying to cover. It was reviewed slightly more than two minutes before umpires ruled the call stood (instead of confirming it).
"Credit to Denard for busting his butt down the line," Field said.
The Rays (6-13) seek their first three-game win streak of 2018 this evening when they send Blake Snell to the hill.
He'll be hard-pressed to upstage Friday's proceedings.
"Probably one of the more interesting games I've been a part of with the Rays," Manager Kevin Cash said.
The bizarre final play capped an altogether bizarre night. The Rays took a 6-2 lead into the eighth inning courtesy of Chris Archer's best performance of the young season, but the Twins tied the score on left-handed cleanup hitter Eddie Rosario's grand slam off righty Sergio Romo.
Even as lefty Ryan Yarbrough warmed up in the bullpen.
"It's (Romo's) role," Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Max Kepler's home run off Yarbrough an inning later made it 7-6. Brad Miller, activated from the 10-day disabled list earlier Friday, forced extra innings with a two-out single up the middle that scored Carlos Gomez.
Before all that, Span collected three RBIs against his former employer, giving him a team-high 14 this season.
"The guy is clutch, he's really clutch," Cash said.
Meantime, Archer prevailed as his co-star.
In his longest outing of the year, Archer allowed two earned runs on four hits in 6 2/3 innings, striking out five and walking one. His only blemish through four innings: a one-out solo home run in the second on a 2-2 pitch by former teammate Logan Morrison, who entered the game 3-for-44 (.068) on the season.
Archer then retired the next nine batters he faced. He exited after issuing a two-out walk to Eduardo Escobar in the seventh, but left-hander Jose Alvarado struck out Kepler to end the inning.
Turned out, the night was just starting to get interesting.
"It was a crazy ending," Archer said.
Times staff writer Marc Topkin contributed to this report.
Contact Joey Knight at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.