Escobar has 3 hits, 3 RBIs to lead Twins past Rays 10-6

Published 7:26 am Thursday, September 7, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.  — The Minnesota Twins didn’t want to call it a must-win. Still, they know how important it was.

Eduardo Escobar had three hits and three RBIs, Brian Dozier and Ehire Adrianza both homered, and the Twins beat the Tampa Bay Rays 10-6 on Wednesday.

“It’s too early for must-wins,” Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. “But given the circumstances of coming off a tough series against the Royals and losing the first two (here), it stymies that negative momentum and hopefully it gets us back on track.”

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Minnesota ended a three-game skid and moved into a tie with the Los Angeles Angels for the second AL wild-card spot.

“We leave here with a positive mind,” Escobar said through a translator. “The offense struggled in the first two games here and we didn’t hit well. Knowing that we won and the offense woke up again gives us momentum to go to Kansas City.”

A three-game sweep would have destroyed the wild-card edge the Twins brought to Tampa Bay. The Rays, who are near the back of the wild-card pack, would have been only one game behind Minnesota.

“Sweeping is hard in the big leagues,” Rays right fielder Steven Souza Jr said. “We just had so many opportunities to win this ball game and everybody was fighting. We know we gained a game, (but we) could’ve gained three and that would have been an enormous swing.”

The Twins scored three runs in the seventh to take the lead for good. Dozier, who hit his 29th homer leading off the game, was walked by reliever Steve Cishek (2-1) to open the inning. Jorge Polanco then bunted and Cishek threw wildly past first base, allowing Dozier to come all the way around to score for a 7-6 lead with Polanco advancing to third.

One out later, Escobar singled to right-center to drive in Polanco. Robbie Grossman doubled off Austin Pruitt and pinch-hitter Joe Mauer was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Max Kepler followed with a run-scoring grounder for a 9-6 lead.

Escobar tripled with one out in the ninth and scored on Grossman’s sacrifice fly to cap the scoring.