MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Yandy Díaz hit a sacrifice fly for Tampa Bay in the 18th inning to break a tie that lasted since the second, and the Rays finally pulled away from Minnesota for a 5-2 victory on Thursday to avoid being swept in a series by the Twins for the first time in 13 years.
Ryan Yarbrough (7-3), the eighth reliever and the 22nd player used by the Rays during the game that lasted 5:42 after rain delayed the first pitch by 57 minutes, threw three scoreless innings for the victory.
After the first eight relievers for the Twins allowed just two hits over a combined 10 innings, Ryne Harper (3-1) faltered in the 18th while pitching for the third straight game and the sixth time in the past 10 days.
The Rays loaded the bases with nobody out, just as they did in the 10th against Blake Parker when they failed to score. Díaz hit a medium-depth fly ball with one out to left fielder Luis Arraez, whose strong throw was a little too far up the first-base line for catcher Jason Castro to catch and make the tag before Brandon Lowe’s left hand grazed the plate on his head-first slide.
Willy Adames and Ji-Man Choi followed with RBI singles to give the Rays some insurance and salvage a 3-7 record from this three-time zone road trip. Just 13 days ago, they led the American League East by a half-game over the New York Yankees. Now they’re 6½ games back.
Rays pitchers set a franchise record with 22 strikeouts. This matched their longest game in history, innings-wise, and this was also the most innings played in Target Field’s 10-season history. The Twins beat the Boston Red Sox in 17 innings just last week.
The Twins turned to starter Kyle Gibson (9-4) for the 17th inning, his first relief appearance in 170 career games.