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)

Tampa Bay Rays defeat Minnesota Twins 6-2

ST. PETERSBURG — Sacrifice flies are far from flashy, and they won't make many SportsCenter highlight reels.

But they score runs, and they were the story in the Rays' 6-2 win over the Twins on Sunday in front of 26,507 at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay set a club record with four sacrifice flies, one shy of the single-game major-league record, in picking up its fourth win in its past five games.

"From the spectators' perspective, it's one of the most boring plays in all of baseball," manager Joe Maddon said. "But from a dugout perspective, it's very exciting. I cannot tell you how exciting it is to see that."

Maddon might have been exaggerating a bit; the Rays dugout wasn't exactly exploding with enthusiasm. But centerfielder B.J. Upton pointed out that since spring training, the No. 1 thing on hitters' lists was doing better at scoring a runner from third with less than two outs. It's something the Rays have struggled with, so a "productive out," as Ben Zobrist calls a sacrifice fly, was much appreciated, considering Tampa Bay had a 2-0 lead in the fourth before getting their first hit off left-hander Francisco Liriano.

"I got to thinking about has there ever been a no-hitter and a loss?" third baseman Evan Longoria said. "Either way, we're going to have to do those kind of plays to win games. We're not a team that really is going to be able to rely on a three-run home run to win a whole lot of games."

That was more than enough support for right-hander Jeff Niemann, who picked up his first win of the season, allowing just two runs and three hits over 5? innings. It came one day after Niemann said he got "chills" watching former Rice University teammate Phil Humber throw a perfect game Saturday for the White Sox.

"For a minute there, I didn't think it was going to be real," Niemann said. "It was fun seeing him go out there and do that. He put some pressure on me to do something myself."

Niemann did his best Humber impression early on, carrying a no-hitter into the fifth until Clete Thomas broke it up with a single with two outs.

"It was weird, just with what Humber did the day before, and us being in college for three years together, pitching behind each other, it just kind of was almost, 'Here it goes again,' " Niemann said. "It was fun."

Some strong bullpen work by Jake McGee, who struck out Justin Morneau with the bases loaded in the fifth, and Fernando Rodney, who has finished all but one of the Rays' wins, made the lead stick.

The Rays (9-7) started with two sacrifice flies in the third inning, when they loaded the bases with no outs before getting RBI flyouts by Desmond Jennings and Zobrist. In the fourth, Longoria doubled off the B-ring catwalk, advanced to third on a Jeff Keppinger flyout and scored on an Upton sacrifice fly to left, his first of two in the game. The Mariners were the last team to have as many sacrifice flies, recording five April 15, 2008, against the Royals.

"A sacrifice fly goes down as an RBI and no plate appearance," said Jennings, who also hit a two-run homer. "So it's a plus on both sides."

Joe Smith can be reached at

Rays 6

Twins 2

Tampa Bay Rays defeat Minnesota Twins 6-2 04/22/12 [Last modified: Monday, April 23, 2012 8:46am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. FSU-Tulane coming to Amalie Arena in December


    Florida State basketball is coming to Tampa.

  2. Is Mikhail Sergachev, who debuts with Lightning at Wednesday camp, ready for the NHL?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — When defenseman Mikhail Sergachev was taken ninth overall by the Canadiens in the 2016 NHL draft, a horde of Montreal media surrounded him for his first news conference.

    Mikhail Sergachev takes a shot during warmups prior to a game between the Canadiens and Arizona Coyotes in October in Montreal. [Getty Images]
  3. Top pick Brendan McKay signing with Rays for $7M bonus


    The Rays are set to sign top pick 1B/LHP Brendan McKay for a bonus just over $7-million, the Tampa Bay Times has learned.

    McKay was the No. 4 overall pick in the June 12 draft as he starred as a two-way player leading Louisville to the College World Series.

    The deal is expected to be finalized …

    Brendan McKay was the No. 4 overall pick in the June 12 draft as he starred as a two-way player leading Louisville to the College World Series.
  4. Vince Young takes shot at Bucs' Ryan Fitzpatrick


    Former NFL quarterback Vince Young, out of the league since 2011 and complaining about not getting more opportunities to prolong his career, took a shot at new Bucs backup Ryan Fitzpatrick in a story posted at …

    Veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who signed with the Bucs to be Jameis Winston's backup this fall, has played for six other NFL teams in his 12 seasons in the league.