On Tuesday night, the Tampa Bay Rays, MLB’s top-ranked team, beat the Minnesota Twins, who lead the AL Central, 7-0. Zach Eflin led the way with a superb performance, pitching into the seventh inning and earning his eighth win of the season. He struck out nine and gave up only three hits. Minnesota’s manager, Rocco Baldelli, praised Eflin’s sinker, cutter, and curveball combo, which has been on point this season. Eflin now has a 7-0 record with a 1.85 ERA in seven home starts.
Luke Raley starred for the Rays, hitting a triple and a home run. His two-run shot off Louie Varland in the fifth inning made the score 5-0. Jose Siri added a solo shot in the seventh inning, and Randy Arozarena drove in two runs to complete the rout.
In addition to their dominant performance on the field, the Rays set a record for starting home series with a win. They are now 11-0 in home series openers, the best run since the 2013 Detroit Tigers. Varland, who had pitched seven shutout innings in his previous game, struggled for the Twins, giving up seven runs and six hits in six-plus innings.
Minnesota was missing one of their top players, Byron Buxton, who is on the 10-day injured list with a bruised left rib. Baldelli described it as a serious contusion, but X-rays showed no break. Buxton has been limited to designated hitter this season in an effort to keep him healthy.
In other news, Twins minor league RHP Cory Lewis, who taught himself the knuckleball at age 10, has been promoted from Single-A Fort Myers to High-A Cedar Rapids. The Rays also received international bonus pool money from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for minor league reliever Ben Heller.
On the injury front, Twins outfielder Trevor Larnach has been activated from the injured list, while Rays left-hander Josh Fleming has been placed on the 15-day injured list with left elbow inflammation. Finally, Minnesota right-hander Pablo López will take the mound against Rays on Wednesday, with Tampa Bay’s Shwan Armstrong and Cooper Criswell expected to pitch.