Batting leader Luis Arraez hits his first Grand Slam to lead the Twins past the Rays – Twin Cities

Some of the Twins fans who showed up at Target Field might have been disappointed that neither Byron Buxton nor Carlos Correa started Saturday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays. That’s a lot of star power to miss.

But imagine if it was Luis Arraez who started the game on the bench.

The Twins first baseman became the talk of baseball while leading the major leagues in hitting, and he put on a show for the 22,741 that saw the Twins beat the Rays, 6-5.

Arraez went 3-for-5 to take his league-leading batting average to .367 and hit his first career Grand Slam to erase a 3-0 third-inning deficit to give the Twins a lead they never had before. have never lost.

“I just try to do my best there,” Arraez said. “Bases loaded, no outs, just want to put the ball in play.”

He did, sort of. Arraez hit a 2-0 pitch off rookie starter Shane Baz just toward the right field bleachers, but he never landed in fair territory, clearing the home run porch before landing in the gate plaza. 29.

“A really big moment and something I think really turned the game completely in our favor,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.

Indeed, the Twins never trailed again, holding a one-and-two-run lead until Emilio Pagan pitched a ninth inning 1-2-3 for his eighth save in the lead. crew. But it was Arraez who stole the show.

Arraez added two singles to take his average to .369 before fanning himself in his final plate appearance. His third hit was a line drive into center field a few pitches after fouling a throw from his left knee. He was down for a while, sitting on home plate, but told head athletic trainer Michael Salazer to give him five seconds.

“Nobody’s going to take me out of the game there,” he said, “because I want my at bat.”

Who can blame him?

Arraez has always been a good hitter, bringing a career average of .313 in three major league seasons before this one, but said he had never hit better in his life, not even in the minor leagues. .

“Never,” he said. “My hitting coach, Rudy (Hernandez), every time says to me, ‘Hey, it happens. It happens. When you start hitting the ball hard, you might get more home runs. But I never try to hit home runs.

The Twins hit Baz, who was making his major league debut, after just 2⅓ innings, scoring him for five earned runs on three hits and three walks. He left after allowing a brace to Jose Miranda who capped the scoring in the Twins’ five-run third inning.

Jorge Polanco drove in the winning run with a two-out single to score Ryan Jeffers in the sixth inning. Trevor Megill (2-1) picked up the win with a scoreless inning in relief of onsite starter Chi Chi Gonzalez, called up from St. Paul before the game and slated for assignment immediately after.

If Gonzalez clears waivers, he’ll likely join the Saints.

“I was happy to get four innings,” he said. ” I can not complain. It could have been much worse. I could have been eliminated after the first 30 throws. But I was happy to have been able to get up until this fifth run.

Megill, Caleb Thielbar, Jharel Cotton, Jhoan Duran and Pagan each pitched a relief run, with Thielbar and Cotton giving up one run each. But Duran threw a scoreless eighth to set up a save situation for Pagan, who was making his third appearance in four days and hit 97mph on the radar.

“Physically I feel good,” Pagan said. “I will try to speak to be available again tomorrow. I don’t know if they will allow me to do this.

They won’t.

Cole Sands is set to start Sunday’s series finale as the Twins try to lock in a three-game series sweep. The Twins will likely call for a new arm before the game and were evaluating infielder Nick Gordon after the game for a potential hamstring injury.

Buxton pinch ran for him in the eighth inning, and Gio Urshela played the ninth inning at short range.

Gordon’s status for Sunday “is kind of up in the air right now,” Baldelli said.

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