The Tropicana Field scoreboard after the final out of the Rays' 7-4 victory Tuesday afternoon.

Efficient pitching, hot hitting drives Rays to 7-4 victory over Twins


The Tampa Bay Rays kept their Spring Training winning streak going Tuesday afternoon when they defeated the visiting Minnesota Twins 7-4. Rays pitching tallied a total 11 strikeouts while their batters drew five walks. RHP Zach Eflin, who became the largest free agency acquisition in Rays history back in December, started against the Twins’ RHP Randy Dobnak, the Uber driver turned postseason starter who is attempting a career resurgence after a meteoric 2019 season.

Eflin recorded the first out of the game with an impressive bare-handed play off a grounder by Twins SS Brooks Lee. After a hitless first inning for both teams, Twins 1B Tyler White tallied the first hit of the afternoon with a single off of an Eflin cutter. C Chance Sisco followed up with a home run off of the first pitch he saw to put Minnesota on the board 2-0.

In the bottom of the second, Dobnak walked Rays OF José Siri on a 3-2 count and let out an f-bomb that was audible from the stands. He was right to be frustrated, as Siri eventually scored when 1B Ben Gamel safely reached first on a fielder’s choice. Siri had moved to second base after a groundout by OF Vidal Bruján and then to third by way of a passed ball.

After Eflin retired three straight Twins in the top of the third, OF Manuel Margot recorded the Rays’ first hit of the day by doubling off of Dobnak. The third inning proved to be the last of the day for Dobnak, who yielded one hit and three walks. Both sides went 1-2-3 in the fourth inning, which was the last inning of work for Eflin. His last pitch was a 90 MPH sinker that struck out OF Ryan LaMarre. Coming in to relieve Eflin in the fifth inning was RHP Braden Bristo, a 27-year-old non-roster invitee who has been in the Yankees organization since playing college ball for Louisiana Tech. He allowed one hit and hit 3B Andrew Bechtold with a pitch but finished a clean frame with a strikeout of Lee.

The Rays’ bats got going in the bottom of the fifth, starting with a single by C Blake Hunt. After a double by DH Yandy Díaz put runners on first and second, 2B Ronny Simon put the Rays on top 3-2 with a 2-RBI single as a pinch hitter. A double by SS Tristan Gray extended the lead to two runs.

The sixth inning saw no baserunners from either team, with Rays RHP Calvin Faucher striking out the side. The Twins’ batters were left without an answer in the seventh inning as well, while a 3-run homer by Gray set the score at 7-2.

After RHP Ryan Thompson threw a 9-pitch top of the eighth, the Rays looked determined to further extend their lead by loading the bases with one out in the bottom of the inning. However, two quick strikeouts by Twins RHP Jordan Brink prevented the game from getting too out of hand for the visitors.

Coming in to a save opportunity was RHP Jaime Schultz, a 5’10” former Rays draft pick who last pitched for AAA Tacoma in 2021 before accepting a non-roster invite this spring. After the third pitch of his appearance hit Twins C David Bañuelos, he signaled to the dugout and Rays manager Kevin Cash came out with a trainer to talk to him. He had sustained an injury to his abductor that was enough to have him exit the game. RHP Ben Heller quickly warmed up and came in to relieve Schultz. The Twins attempted a late rally, scoring two more runs to cut their deficit to three, but Heller drew a grounder to short that ended the game.

Bristo was awarded the win while RHP Blayne Enlow, who surrendered the 2-RBI single by Simon that put the Rays ahead in the fifth, was credited with the loss. The game took two hours and eight minutes.

Both teams will be headed to Fort Myers for their next games. The Rays will send a split squad to face the Red Sox on Wednesday and the Twins on Thursday. The Twins will have the day off before they face Tampa Bay once again.

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One comment

  1. Cool article, can’t wait to see the Rays in action when the season starts.

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