Matt Capps did his best Ron Davis impression in the top of the ninth inning on Tuesday night at Target Field against the Tampa Bay Rays, but the Minnesota Twins still managed to hang on for a 3-2 victory.
The Twins got out to an early lead against Rays' starter James Shields (8-6, 2.47 ERA). Ben Revere led off the inning with a single, and Alexi Casilla's double put runners on second and third with nobody out. After Joe Mauer struck out swinging, Michael Cuddyer brought Revere home with a ground out to third, giving the Twins an early 1-0 lead.
Minnesota struck again in the bottom of the third, when Casilla and Revere were on first and second, respectively, with one out. Mauer flew out to left for the second out, but Cuddyer came through once again with a single to right. Revere came in to score to make it 2-0, and an error by Matt Joyce allowed Casilla to come in as well to make the score 3-0.
Tampa Bay got a run back in the top of the fourth, thanks to an error by Danny Valencia on a ground ball by Casey Kotchman to make the score 3-1. Scott Baker (7-5, 3.01 ERA) appeared to be cruising, but Phil Dumatrait came out for the top of the sixth inning despite Baker having only allowed one run on three hits through five innings. Baker was diagnosed with a mild strain of his right elbow, and will be re-evaluated on Wednesday. Dumatrait performed well, allowing just one hit in 1.2 innings of work. Alex Burnett came in and retired Elliot Johnson on a fly ball to left to finish the seventh, and Joe Nathan gave up one hit in a scoreless eighth inning.
Then Matt Capps came in for the top of the ninth, and all hell attempted to break loose. Capps' first pitch was deposited into the left field seats by B.J. Upton, a solo home run that cut the Minnesota lead to 3-2. Capps then walked Kotchman, and followed that up by retiring Sean Rodriguez and Sam Fuld on fly balls. He then went to a full count on Kelly Shoppach before walking him to put runners on first and second, and Ron Gardenhire made the move to Glen Perkins. It marked the third consecutive save opportunity for Capps when he was unable to close the deal.
Perkins came in to face Twins killer Johnny Damon, and induced a weak ground ball to shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Nishioka fired the ball to first and, even though Damon appeared to be safe on the reply, first base umpire Gary Darling called him out, securing a 3-2 victory for the Twins, their third in a row and their second in a row over an American League All-Star, having beaten David Price on Monday afternoon. The save for Perkins was his second in as many chances.
The Twins will go for the sweep on Wednesday afternoon at Target Field, with first pitch scheduled for 12:10 PM Central time. The Twins will send left-hander Francisco Liriano (5-7, 4.76 ERA) to the mound, while Tampa Bay will go with right-hander Wade Davis (7-6, 4.20 ERA).