Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Homers carry streaking Rays past Twins

ST. PETERSBURG — The tendency from the outside is to look at whom the Rays are beating, posting an asterisk as they've won seven of the first eight in a 14-game parade of the American League's three worst teams.

But inside the Rays clubhouse the focus is purely on what they are doing, and how they are doing it, Monday's 7-4 victory over Minnesota the latest example of their solid play in the recent stretch against the Astros, White Sox and Twins.

"I feel like it really doesn't matter who we're playing," All-Star Ben Zobrist said. "We feel pretty confident about the way we're playing."

Roberto Hernandez wasn't nearly as sharp as the starters before him, but the glovework was good and the offense rallied before a Trop gathering of 11,516, Yunel Escobar and Zobrist homering in the seventh to put the Rays ahead to stay.

"We're playing some of our best baseball, probably our best baseball right now," manager Joe Maddon said. "And if we could just stay in this flow, which I think we're capable of, the key ingredients are starting pitching, defense, not expanding our strike zone."

The win was their fifth straight and 12th of 15 overall as they improved to a season-high 10 games over .500 at 50-40. And, having been last in the AL East on June 23, they moved into sole possession of second place — and the second wild card.

It's their third quickest march to 50 wins in franchise history, getting there faster only in — no surprise — their two AL East championship seasons: 82 games in 2008 (when they won 97) and 83 games in 2010 (when they won 96).

"Just all the way across the board, offensively and pitching and defensively, everything is just kind of clicking right now," Zobrist said.

Hernandez was not sharp, his sinker not sinking, and was somewhat fortunate to get through his six innings with only three runs as the Twins rapped out eight hits, and hit several other balls hard for outs, while a 2-0 lead disappeared.

"The ball was up, flat and no movement," Hernandez said. "I don't know what happened."

The Rays tied it in the fifth, then made reliever Alex Torres the winner with a quick-strike attack in the seventh.

Escobar crushed an 0-and-1 pitch from Samuel Deduno into the leftfield seats then, after sizzling Desmond Jennings (.424 in his past eight games) tripled and Luke Scott, who homered in the first, struck out against rookie reliever Caleb Thielbar, Zobrist hit a two-run shot to left, the first of his six homers to come right-handed.

And, knowing how tough they've had it and what's ahead after the All-Star break (starting with a 10-game trip to Toronto, Boston and New York), Maddon said the current degree of difficulty should not be a factor.

"Everybody's got to play the same group of teams, everybody gets a shot at different groups," Maddon said. "Right now, I just think we're playing well. I know there's a lot being made about the schedule right now, but I don't believe in that stuff.

"Minnesota's got a very proud tradition, they've got some really good players on the field right there and they've got a really good pitcher pitching against us (Monday night). So I really like the way we played."

Marc Topkin can be reached at

Homers carry streaking Rays past Twins 07/08/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 9, 2013 12:12am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs journal: Kicker Nick Folk has up and downs against Jaguars


    JACKSONVILLE — If the Bucs had hoped for a drama-free night in their kicking game, they'll have to wait another week.

    Bucs kicker Nick Folk celebrates one of his two made field goals against the Jaguars, but he also misses a field goal and has an extra point blocked.
  2. Bucs top Jaguars behind strong first half



    There is a reason why the air in Tampa Bay is filled with playoff talk. If Thursday night's 12-8 Bucs preseason win over the Jaguars is any indication, it's also going to be filled with footballs thrown by quarterback Jameis Winston.

    Doug Martin gets the Bucs’ only touchdown  on a 2-yard run, squeaking past linebacker Telvin Smith in the first quarter. He has five carries for 30 yards.
  3. Rays journal: Archer has strong outing, with two mistakes

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Two pitches RHP Chris Archer didn't execute are the ones that stood out Thursday as Josh Donaldson hit them out of the park. But the two solo home runs aside, Archer turned in a sterling outing that went atop the pile of good pitching the Rays keep wasting.

    Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) works during the first inning. [Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP]
  4. Tim Tebow continues wowing fans as he wraps up bay area games


    CLEARWATER — Tracey Fritzinger has seen Tim Tebow play baseball a few times this year. The 40-year-old St. Petersburg resident went to two of his games against the Tampa Yankees, along with Joy, her little sister from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

    St. Lucie Mets outfielder Tim Tebow, middle, hangs out in the dugout during Thursday night’s game against the Clearwater Threshers at Spectrum Field, the last of St. Lucie’s eight-day trip to the Tampa Bay area.
  5. Rays vs. Mariners, 7:10 Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Mariners

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Austin Pruitt (50) in the dugout during the ninth inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Day at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, April 2, 2017. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 7-3.