Minnesota standout Byron Buxton hit two more home runs Friday night in leading the Twins to a 9-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. He’s now hit five homers in three games, and the Twins have scored nine runs against Rays in three straight games now.
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton is on an epic heater right now, and it was the Tampa Bay Rays who had to feel his wrath this time around.
Buxton, who was batting second on Friday night as the Twins’ designated hitter, hit two home runs in leading the Twins to a 9-4 victory over Drew Rasmussen and the Rays. It was his second straight two-homer game — he did it against the New York Yankees first — and all of his offense help kick off a series-opening romp.
Buxton now has 17 home runs this season, second-most in the majors behind New York’s Aaron Judge, and he’s hit five long balls in the past three days and moved into a tie for second in the major leagues with 17 homers in just 43 games. Twins shortstop Carlos Correa added another two-run homer late.
This was the third-straight time the Twins have scored nine runs in a game against the Rays. They won the series in St. Pete with 9-1 and 9-3 routs on May 1-2. The Twins, who lead the American League Central, have scored eight runs or more in five of their last seven games.
Rasmussen (5-3) had the worst start of his career, which was surprising considering that he was coming off seven shutout innings last Saturday against the Chicago White Sox. He gave up seven runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings, but three runs were unearned thanks to a fifth-inning fielding error on first baseman Harold Ramírez.
Rays starters have been great lately, allowing two runs or fewer in 20 of the last 26 games. But the Twins are thumping right now, coming of a series where they scored 19 runs against the Yankees and their three best starter, Jameson Taillon, Nestor Cortes and Gerrit Cole. (By the way, the Yankees are next on the Rays’ nine-game road trip.)
The Twins blew the game open in the fifth inning, sending 11 batters to the plate and scoring six runs. They got RBI doubles by Jorge Polanco and Gary Sánchez and RBI singles by Nick Gordon and Luis Arraez.
Buxton’s first homer was a 387-footer into the second deck, but the second one came off a half-swing that managed to travel into the bullpen behind left-center after a “really good pitch” by Rasmussen — a low-and-away slider.
“I’m sure he’ll do something next week or tomorrow that we haven’t seen him do before,” said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, a former player and coach with the Rays. “That’s some greatness right there.”
The Rays got home runs from Isaac Paredes (second inning) and Vidal Brujan (seventh). Brujan’s homer came just after Randy Arozarena had an inside-the-park home run. He also drove in another run in the eighth inning.
The two teams play again on Saturday afternoon, with the game starting at 2:10 p.m. ET. Shane Baz, the Rays’ 22-year-old pitching phenom, will make his season debut on the mound.
Tom Brew is the publisher of Inside The Rays, and has been with the Sports Illustrated/FanNation network for three years. He is an award-winning writer and editor who has spent most of his four-decade career at the Tampa Bay Times, Indianapolis Star and South Florida Sun-Sentinel. He has written four books.
source: Sports Illustrated