Randy Arozarena hits leadoff homer in 9th, Rays beat Twins 2-1
By Mark Didtler
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Randy Arozarena homered leading off ninth inning to give the major league-best Tampa Bay Rays a 2-1 victory over the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night.
After Minnesota tied it in the top of the inning, Arozarena sent an 0-1 pitch from Jhoan Duran (1-2) to the opposite field into the stands in right-center field.
“I’d say I called it,” Arozarena said through a translator. “I didn’t want to bat because I thought we were going to win it earlier. But once they tied it, I knew that I was going to have a chance to get a nice hit there.”
Arozarena has 12 homers and 43 RBIs.
“He’s got a knack for it,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He seems to elevate his game when we need it most.”
Duran has given up just two earned runs over 18 2/3 innings in his last 17 games.
Jason Adam (2-1) blew his fourth save opportunity in 13 chances when the Twins rallied in the ninth.
Adam hit Donovan Solano with one out and walked Max Kepler after pinch-runner Michael A. Taylor stole second. Taylor then swiped third before Royce Lewis tied it with an RBI single.
Minnesota loaded the bases when Will Castro was hit by a pinch, but third baseman Isaac Paredes started a nifty double play with a tumbling throw to second on Ryan Jeffers’ grounder.
“Incredible play by Isaac,” said Rays second baseman Taylor Walls, who took Paredes throw. “That was big play. We really needed that.
Paredes also homered, and six Rays pitchers combined on a three-hitter.
Tampa Bay (45-19) limited the Twins (31-31) to four hits in a 7-0 victory in the series opener Tuesday night.
“We can look at it and say we should be better,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We’re going to have to play better. It’s in there. We have the group to do it.”
The Rays improved to 28-6 at home. It’s the best home start since the 1998 New York Yankees also went 28-6.
Minnesota’s Pablo López allowed one run and five hits in seven innings.
The Twins have lost a season-high four in a row. Minnesota has scored five runs and picked up 26 hits in its last five games.
“It’s a little frustrating because we know the type of the team that we are,” López said. “We know the quality we have.”
Paredes homered leading off the second. Tampa Bay leads the AL with 106 homers.
Cooper Criswell struck out Carlos Correa with two on to end the third. He also fanned Correa, who hit a long foul to left during the at-bat, with a runner on first and no outs in the sixth before being replaced by Kevin Kelly.
Correa went 0 for 4. He returned Monday after missing three game after reaggravating plantar fasciitis on his left foot and is 1 for 8 with five strikeouts over the stretch.
López worked out of one and third one-out jam in the third by picking Wander Franco off at first base and striking out Randy Arozarena.
Reliever Shawn Armstrong started and allowed one hit over two scoreless innings. The right-hander reached behind himself to knockdown Lewis’ second-inning grounder and threw him out at first.
Twins: Lewis was back in the lineup after missing one game. He was involved in a collision at first base where he flipped over in Sunday’s game against Cleveland.
Rays: Slugger Brandon Lowe (lower back) won’t participate in baseball activites for two to three weeks. It is a different back injury from last year when he was limited to 65 games.
Minnesota RHP Bailey Ober (3-2) will start the series finale Thursday. The Rays have not announced a starter.