Trevor May on Saturday was given a chance to pitch deeper into a game than he ever has in the majors. But the Twins righthander loused it up by throwing a fastball over the middle of the plate that Tampa Bay's Tim Beckham hammered into the left field stands for a tying, two-run homer in the seventh inning.
Even though the score was tied, the Twins looked doomed because they spent the afternoon failing to convert numerous scoring chances.
But what happened at that point was another example of why this team is 20-10 since April 15 — they retaliated.
The Twins scored two runs in the seventh and got a Brian Dozier home run in the eighth to hold off the Rays 6-4 at Target Field. Eduardo Escobar went 4-for-4, Brian Duensing retired one batter to get the win and Glen Perkins earned his 13th save as the Twins have won the first two games of the three-game series.
And both Saturday's game and the Twins' 3-2 victory Friday night were similar in that the team's clutch hitting awakened in the seventh inning.
"I like the fact that we are doing it now," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "You hope they remember the feeling and the confidence they have displayed in the last couple of games. I just think, like any part of the game, when you do it a few times and you get good results hopefully you have positive thoughts the next time you are in that situation."
The Twins scored three runs in the second — two on Danny Santana's two-out single — to grab an early lead. Up 3-1 in the fourth, they knocked out starter Alex Colome and had two runners on base before Aaron Hicks lined out to center and Santana struck out against Rays reliever Andrew Bellatti.
The Twins' first two batters in the sixth reached, but Eddie Rosario, Hicks and Santana all struck out while chasing Bellatti changeups.
"That pitcher on the mound drives a Mercedes, so that means he's a professional and his job is to get you out," Twins outfielder Torii Hunter said. "And it's not like we're not trying. There will be some days when you are hot and getting them all in and there will be days when you aren't getting any in. So I think that we have to keep fighting and keep getting guys in scoring position."
Hunter looked for a fastball from reliever Kevin Jepsen in the seventh, got one, and singled to left. Joe Mauer walked, and Trevor Plouffe reached when Jepsen threw wildly to second after fielding a comebacker.
Kurt Suzuki, fresh off a conversation with hitting coach Tom Brunansky, was up next.
"He's talking to Brunansky about if we are seeing any trends from [Jepsen]," Molitor said. "He started Dozier off with a couple curveballs, but when he threw fastballs they were away."
Suzuki, looking for a fastball he could elevate, hit a sacrifice fly to right that scored Hunter to make it 4-3. Escobar followed with an RBI single, and the Twins led 5-3.
Dozier hit his homer in the eighth, which was answered by Logan Forsythe's homer off Perkins in the ninth. But Perkins got through the inning to close out the game.
"Right now our lineup is, we're fighters," Hunter said. "We don't have the Miguel Cabreras or Victor Martinezes. We have guys who grind it out and have good at-bats and make things happen. I love that.''