Minnesota at Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay
W: J. Cruz (1-0) L: J. Nathan (0-1)
HR: MIN - J. Kubel (1)   TB - B. Zobrist (2)

Damon's go-ahead single boosts Rays past Twins

CBSSports.com wire reports

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- A late bullpen failure and lack of clutch hitting cost the Minnesota Twins -- again.

Ben Zobrist led off the ninth with a tying home run and Johnny Damon ended the game with a two-out single, leading the Tampa Bay Rays to a 4-3 victory over the Twins on Saturday.

Minnesota's Joe Nathan (0-1) blew his second save of the series when Zobrist homered to tie the score at 3.

More on Twins at Rays
Related links

"He's our closer. It happens," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It didn't work out today."

B.J. Upton walked and stole second. Nathan was replaced by Jose Mijares after walking Casey Kotchman and getting a flyball from John Jaso.

"We just got him out of the game. He had already thrown 16 or 17 pitches, and I'm not going let him stand out there and throw, throw, throw, throw," Gardenhire said. "Just keep moving forward."

Nathan didn't pitch last season after having right elbow ligament replacement surgery. The right-hander feels fine physically, but is a little inconsistent on the mound.

"I think it's definitely progressed from spring training," Nathan said. "There's days that are a little tougher than others. Just got beat today."

The Twins went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position.

"We missed some opportunities," Gardenhire said.

Mijares struck out pinch-hitter Elliot Johnson for the second out before walking Sam Fuld to load the bases. Damon then won it on his 2,583rd career hit -- which tied him with Ernie Banks for 80th place all-time.

Juan Cruz (1-0) worked a scoreless ninth for the Rays, who have won five in a row.

Matt Capps gave up an RBI single in the eighth to Matt Joyce that cut the Tampa Bay deficit to 3-2. Minnesota has lost four straight and six of seven.

Nathan and Capps both had blown save opportunities in Tampa Bay's 4-3, 10-inning win over the Twins on Thursday night.

"We got the game in the right situation and it didn't work out," Gardenhire said.

Scott Baker, who held the Rays hitless in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position, allowed one run and four hits in seven innings. He kept Tampa Bay from scoring after Joyce opened the fourth with a double, and worked out of a two-on, no-out jam in fifth.

"We're just not getting it done at the end of the day," Baker said.

Baker struck out six and walked one. The right-hander retired his last nine batters.

Jason Kubel put the Twins up 1-0 on a second-inning homer off Jeff Niemann. Kubel's shot was just the fourth home run hit by Minnesota this season.

Kubel had been hitless in nine previous at-bats against Niemann before his solo shot.

Minnesota took a 2-0 lead when Alexi Casilla scored during the third on Luke Hughes' double-play grounder.

Denard Span made it 3-1 with a fifth-inning RBI triple.


  • Minnesota 1B Justin Morneau was the DH. "Give him a little break," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I think he's doing really good." Morneau missed the final 78 games last season due to a concussion.
  • Twins C Joe Mauer (viral infection) could take part in a light workout Sunday at the ballpark.
  • Tampa Bay LHP J.P. Howell, who missed all of last season with a left shoulder injury, threw batting practice for the second time and could start a minor league rehab assignment in about a week.
  • Jaso had been 0 for 14 at home before he singled in the third.
Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Johnny Damon gets congratulations from the Rays dugout after hitting a go-ahead single vs. the Twins. (US Presswire)
Johnny Damon gets congratulations from the Rays dugout after hitting a go-ahead single vs. the Twins. (US Presswire)

Players of the Game
Tampa Bay

J. Damon
AB 5
R 0
H 1
HR 0

D. Span
AB 5
R 0
H 3
HR 0

Related Video

Minnesota Twins
Denard Span, CF5031011 .339
Luke Hughes, 2B4000012 .176
    Matt Tolbert, 2B0000000 .267
Delmon Young, LF3010101 .220
Justin Morneau, DH4000012 .208
Jason Kubel, RF3121100 .320
Michael Cuddyer, 1B4000012 .204
Danny Valencia, 3B3000121 .229
Steve Holm, C3000010 .000
   a- Jim Thome, PH1000011 .194
    Drew Butera, C0000000 .133
Alexi Casilla, SS4220000 .179
a-struck out for Holm in the 9th
3B - Denard Span (1, Niemann)
HR - Jason Kubel (1, Niemann)
RBI - Denard Span (5), Jason Kubel (3)
SB - Denard Span (1, 2nd base off Niemann/Jaso), Delmon Young (1, 2nd base off Niemann/Jaso), Jason Kubel (1, 2nd base off Niemann/Jaso)
Team LOB - 7
Minnesota Twins
Scott Baker 7411160 4.50
Matt Capps (H,2) 1211010 4.50
Joe Nathan (BS,2; L,0-1) 0.1122201 8.44
Jose Mijares 0.1100110 0.00
Pitches-Strikes - Scott Baker 96-67, Matt Capps 18-11, Joe Nathan 16-6, Jose Mijares 18-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Scott Baker 5-10, Matt Capps 2-0
Batters Faced - Scott Baker 26, Matt Capps 5, Joe Nathan 4, Jose Mijares 3
Tampa Bay Rays
Sam Fuld, LF3001102 .341
Johnny Damon, DH5011014 .218
Matt Joyce, RF4021010 .293
Felipe Lopez, 3B4000012 .267
Ben Zobrist, 2B4111011 .184
B.J. Upton, CF3100111 .245
Casey Kotchman, 1B2110200 .222
John Jaso, C4020002 .179
Reid Brignac, SS3110024 .219
   a- Elliot Johnson, PH1000012 .267
a-struck out for Brignac in the 9th
2B - Matt Joyce (5, Baker)
HR - Ben Zobrist (2, Nathan)
SF - Sam Fuld (1)
RBI - Sam Fuld (5), Johnny Damon (12), Matt Joyce (3), Ben Zobrist (5)
2-OUT RBI - Johnny Damon (1), Matt Joyce (1)
SB - B.J. Upton (2, 2nd base off Nathan/Butera)
Team LOB - 8
DP - Zobrist-Brignac-Kotchman
Tampa Bay Rays
Jeff Niemann 7833161 6.32
Adam Russell 1000110 1.59
Juan Cruz (W,1-0) 1000110 5.06
WP - Jeff Niemann (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Jeff Niemann 108-67, Adam Russell 22-13, Juan Cruz 18-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeff Niemann 5-9, Adam Russell 2-0, Juan Cruz 1-1
Batters Faced - Jeff Niemann 29, Adam Russell 4, Juan Cruz 4
Game Information
Attendance - 16428
Game Time - 3:10
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Tim Timmons, First Base - Jeff Kellogg, Second Base - Eric Cooper, Third Base - Mark Carlson