Twins look to avoid sweep in finale at Tampa Bay

minnesota twins go into their Thursday afternoon series finale with tampa bay rays Knowing that win or lose, they were in St. Petersburg, Fla., in the American League Central. will leave in the first place

The big question is whether Rocco Baldelli’s offensively challenged team, which has dropped a season-high number of games in four straight seasons, pulls off a winning record.

raysMeanwhile, will attempt to sweep the three-game set and build on their five-game winning streak

Minnesota, which started the season by winning its first four games and hasn’t fallen below the .500 mark all year, entered Thursday’s contest with a 31-31 record and remarkably held a 2 1/2-game lead over second-seeded Kansas City. With- Keep the Cleveland Indians.

Twinsmanaged just five runs and 26 hits in his last five games, losing 2-1 on Wednesday when raysRandy Arrozarena hit his first career walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth against closer Joan Duran.

Minnesota finished with only three hits, all singles, from six Tampa Bay pitchers.

royce lewis broke Twins‘ 18-inning scoreless streak with an RBI single in the ninth, and Minnesota loaded the bases with one out after that. However, Jason Adam grounded out to Ryan Jeffers into an inning-ending double play that began with a nifty backhand grab by third baseman Isaac Paredes and featured a strong turn at second base by Taylor Walls.

“Hitting Is Contagious” Twins (St. Paul, Minn.) shortstop Carlos Correa, who went 0-for-4 and struck out twice, said according to the Pioneer Press. “It looks like a virus right now. We have to try to figure it out as a team.”

Minnesota starting pitcher Pablo Lopez, who allowed just one run on five hits in seven innings, said, “It’s a little disappointing because we know what kind of team we are. We know we have both pitching and hitting skills.” Quality is there. We’ve had opportunities to win most of those games, and unfortunately, we haven’t been able to get the job done.”

DurĂ¡n, known for his 105 mph fastball, surprisingly started Arjoarena with a pair of splitters to start the bottom of the ninth. The second one, at 98.6 mph, hung over the middle of the plate and Arrozarena drove it 385 feet into the bleachers to right for the game-winner.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Adam. “Duran has tremendous stuff. Randy’s a great player. We all know that. He lives for the big moment.”

“I was just looking forward to hooking up with something tough. I knew he worked hard so I was trying to capture it,” Arojrena said.

It was Arrozarena’s 12th home run of the season, tying him with Yandy Diaz for the team lead.

“He has a knack for it,” rays Manager Kevin Cash said of Arozarena’s big hit. “He’s a really good player who steps up his game when we need it most. He was the right guy out there. Duran’s really talented, has a big arm, but Randy’s got a fast bat and he Hit it out of the ballpark.

Minnesota will turn to right-hander Bailey Ober (3-2, 2.33 ERA) to try to break the losing streak before heading to Toronto for a three-game series with the Blue Jays. ober never faced rays in his career

Tampa Bay is likely to call up right-hander Yonny Chirino from Triple-A Durham on Thursday and give him the start. Chirinos (2-1, 2.79 ERA) is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two career starts against Minnesota, but has not faced Twins since 2019

– Field Level Media