MINNEAPOLIS – The Rays didn't have quite enough fight in them Sunday.
Brian Dozier hit a walkoff grand slam in the 10th inning to give the Twins an 11-7 win in a back-and-forth and hot-tempered game that sent the Rays into the All-Star break at 49-47.
The buildup went something like this.
The Rays went ahead early but lost a 4-1 lead in the seventh. The teams squared off twice as the benches and bullpens emptied. The Rays battled back to take the lead in eighth. They gave it back in a poorly pitched ninth. Down to their last out, they tied in the ninth and escaped a Twins threat.
But in the 10th, Cave led off with a double off Matt Andriese, the Rays ninth pitcher, and moved to third on a bunt. The Rays intentionally walked Joe Mauer and Eddie Rosario to load the bases, and brought in Joey Wendle from leftfield to set up a five-man infield, all playing in with one out. But Dozier made that moot with a drive into the leftfield seats.
There were several pivotal moments.
In the bottom of the seventh, with the Rays leading 4-1.
Two singles off lefty reliever Adam Kolarek put Twins on the corners. Eddie Rosario singled sharply to left to make it 4-2, ending Kolarek's day as Diego Castillo took over with runners again on the corners.
Daniel Robertson made a great diving stop at third of Brian Dozier's smash down the line, but a bad decision to make a throw across the diamond. First baseman C.J. Cron then made a worse move, throwing back to third errantly.
That allowed both runners to score to make it 4-4, and Dozier to go around to third, setting the stage for the drama.
First, as Dozier danced off third, Castillo was called for a balk. Dozier was a bit overzealous in his celebration, which may have led to the temper tantrums, as both benches and bullpens emptied, though there was no real fighting. Chris Archer and Carlos Gomez, sprinting in from right field., seemed among the most agitated Rays.
Castillo then struck out Eduardo Escobar, and he had a few choice words as he headed past the Rays dugout on his way to third base, and the benches emptied again.
In the top of the eighth, with the Twins leading 5-4.
A pinch-hit single by Matt Duffy and a walk by Adeiny Hechavarria that led to a two-run double by Jesus Sucre, starting in place of injured Wilson Ramos.
In the bottom of the eighth, with the Rays leading 6-5.
Castillo, who had balked in a run in the controversial seventh, walked the first two Twins in the eighth and was replaced by Hunter Wood. A bunt against moved the runners to third and second and an intentional walk loaded the bases.
Manager Kevin Cash brought in Sergio Romo. He struck out Mitch Garver but then walked lefty Joe Mauer on four pitches to force in the tying run, then allowed a single to Eddie Rosario that scored the go ahead run. The
Twins could have had two, but Kevin Kiermaier made a strong throw home and the call withstood a lengthy replay challenge.
In the top of the ninth, with the Twins leading 7-6.
Daniel Robertson singled, stole second with one out (his first steal of the season) and moved to third on C.J. Cron's ground out. Then he scored the tying when Joey Wendle, who was only in the game when Duffy was scratched from the original lineup, delivered a single.
While lefty starter Blake Snell, Ramos (who won't play) and Cash flying to Washington, D.C., for Tuesday's All-Star Game, the rest of the team was heading home to Tampa Bay or elsewhere for some R&R.. Play resumes Friday against the Marlins at Tropicana Field.
Contact Marc Topkin at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_Rays.