ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. – Eddie Rosario tied the score with a grand slam in the eighth inning, and Max Kepler’s solo blast in the ninth provided a lead.
The Twins were one out away from their second consecutive come-from-behind victory when a hit batter in the bottom of the ninth turned into the tying run. Then a defensive blunder in extra innings cost them the game.
Tampa Bay pulled off a 8-7 win in 10 innings when the Twins botched something they worked on for hours and hours only a month ago down I-75 in Fort Myers.
“A tough play to lose on,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “On a PFP play.”
That stands for pitchers fielding practice. With two on and two out in the 10th, Joe Mauer made a splendid diving stop of Denard Span’s grounder, then flipped the ball to reliever Zach Duke. Duke reached for the bag with his right foot and missed — or that’s what first base umpire James Hoye decided. That allowed Johnny Field, who was pinch running for former Twin Wilson Ramos after a one-out double, to race home from second to score the winning run.
“I thought I got a piece of the base,” Duke said. “Apparently they didn’t see it on the replay.”
Duke looked to make a second attempt to make sure he touched the bag.
“I don’t know about the timing,” he said. “I felt like I had touched the base.”
Molitor said their replay technician felt the video evidence was inconclusive, but the Twins challenged Hoye’s call anyway — while Rays players celebrated on the field. After a 2 minute, 16 second wait, the call — and the loss — was confirmed.
Molitor wasn’t kidding about the tough loss. The Twins led 1-0, 2-1 and 7-6 before dropping the extra-inning game. Duke was charged with an error on the final play, the first walkoff loss by the Twins on an error since Aug. 30, 2008, when closer Joe Nathan committed an error at Oakland.
Logan Morrison hit his first homer as a Twin and they nearly bailed out starter Lance Lynn, who gave up five runs in six-plus innings.
In addition to Ramos’ contribution, Span was 2-for-5 with three RBI and Carlos Gomez scored the tying run in the ninth. All are former Twins trying to set a good example for the younger Rays.
“We feel sexy about it,” Gomez said in typical Gomezian style. “It’s not how old you are, it’s about how you feel. And every day I feel hot.”
The Twins trailed 6-2 late in the game, after Rays starter Chris Archer had held them to two runs on four hits over 6⅔ innings, but they loaded the bases in the eighth for Miguel Sano. Rays reliever Sergio Romo struck out Sano, getting him to wave at 70 miles-per-hour breaking balls.
Romo got ahead 0-2 on Rosario and tried the same trick. Rosario was out in front on a 74-mph slider but got enough to send it over the wall in right for his third career grand slam.
“At that moment, we felt like we had a second air,” Rosario said, “and we came back to tie the game.”
Kepler homered off lefthander Ryan Yarbrough in the ninth, and the Twins grabbed a 7-6 lead. Closer Fernando Rodney struck out the first two batters, before he missed inside to Gomez and plunked him. Gomez stole second, then scored when Brad Miller’s sharp grounder struck the mound then deflected off a leaping Eduardo Escobar for a single.
“I’ve got a short shortstop,” Molitor said, “and it turned on us in the extra innings.”