There was a little bit of everything from the Twins’ offense Thursday.
Eduardo Nunez electrified fans with the first leadoff inside-the-park home run in Target Field history. The bottom of the order contributed. Rookies produced. Struggling veterans stepped up. And it all was part of a season-high 15-hit attack
The Twins used the offensive burst to beat Tampa Bay 6-4 and stopped a three-game losing streak while helping reliever Taylor Rogers win his first major league game.
“There was a lot of contributions from a lot of guys,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
Nunez led off the first with a fly ball to right that should have been caught by outfielder Brandon Guyer, but he looked as if he had trouble tracking the ball in the sun. He staggered back to the wall and still had time to make a play. but the ball hit his glove and rolled toward the right-field corner.
Nunez was nearing second at the time, his helmet popping off his head as he ran. Then he looked at third base coach Gene Glynn and realized he was being waved home.
“When I saw Geno, I just kept going,” Nunez said.
Nunez slid on his belly — and with a big grin on his face — and owned the first leadoff inside-the-park home run in Twins history and the first one in the majors since Eric Young did it for the Rockies on Aug. 8, 2012. It was the first leadoff inside-the-park home run in franchise history since July 26, 1949.
It also was the first inside-the-park home run hit by a Twins player in Target Field.
“At the end of the play, I was just happy to make it,” he said. “I didn’t want to run anymore.”
By the end of the game, every Twin would have at least one hit. Byung Ho Park had three hits, including two doubles. Brian Dozier added a home run that actually cleared the fence. And Max Kepler had his first two major league RBI.
The Twins entered the game last in the American League in runs scored, which was disappointing because of the promise the offense showed heading into the season. There was home-run potential from the unit, but that hasn’t materialized.
“Home runs are nice,” Moltior said, “but I don’t want to be a team that relies on that. I’d rather have flow.”
When the Rays took a 2-1 lead in the third inning, the Twins responded with two runs in the fourth, one on Kepler’s first RBI, a double to right-center, the other on Byron Buxton’s sacrifice fly.
Tampa Bay took a 4-3 lead in the fifth on Evan Longoria’s two-run homer that chased starter Phil Hughes from the game. But Dozier tied the score in the fifth with a solo homer.
Then Dozier was plunked by an Erasmus Ramirez pitch with the bases loaded in the sixth, forcing in the lead run. Kepler’s RBI single in the seventh gave the Twins a 6-4 lead. Kevin Jepsen worked the ninth for his seventh save.
The Twins have won five of their past seven games against Tampa Bay, going back to the start of the 2015 season.
“It was great to have a game like that,” Nunez said. “We haven’t had many of them this year.”