Nelson Cruz is used to the big moments. And used to coming through in the big moments.
This, the Twins knew when they signed the veteran.
He did just that on Wednesday, smacking a two-out, 0-2 pitch off Rays trusted reliever Emilio Pagan to deep center field, clearing the bases in the seventh inning to help the Twins retake the lead in a game they went on to win 6-4 over the Rays at Target Field.
Cruz’s double came after Trevor May had surrendered a tiebreaking home run in the top half of the inning to Willy Adames. And it sent Charlie Morton, who entered the game leading American League starters with a 2.31 earned-run average, to just his second loss of the season.
Morton also gave up three runs in the first inning as the Twins (52-27) capitalized on Eddie Rosario and C.J. Cron RBI singles and a wild pitch.
Jake Odorizzi, who entered the day with the third-lowest ERA in the AL at 2.58, couldn’t hold that lead, giving up a pair of home runs to the Rays (45-35). But though Odorizzi surrendered a Kevin Kiermaier two-run shot to center in the second and a tying Tommy Pham home run in the sixth, he left with a no-decision.
Though the Twins eventually marched back for the come-from-behind victory, they did suffer a costly loss in the game. In the third, Rosario collected his second single and while he was trying to stretch it into a double, he started stumbling, clearly in pain.
After hurting himself, Rosario spiked his helmet to the ground, upset. The Twins announced the left fielder had suffered a left ankle sprain.
For an already nicked up outfield, an injury to Rosario was the last thing the Twins needed. A day earlier, right fielder Max Kepler was hit by a pitch near his right elbow. Fluid in the area caused noticeable swelling, though Kepler was apparently feeling well enough to come on later in the game as a defensive replacement in center.
Byron Buxton is also out, sidelined by a wrist injury sustained when he was hit by a pitch earlier this month, meaning all three starting outfielders are now banged up.
But perhaps if anything can ease the pain, it’s a win.