The Game: Donning their green caps in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Minnesota Twins 5-2 at Charlotte Sports Park. Sean Rodriguez continued his hot streak by going 2 for 3 and scoring two runs.
The Rays took the lead early by scoring in the first inning. Rodriguez double to left to lead off the inning. He later scored on a ground ball by Evan Longoria to give the Rays a 1-0 lead.
Tampa Bay added to their lead in the third inning. Once again Rodriguez got the rally started with a single to lead of the inning. Gabe Kapler followed with a single to put a second runner on. Hank Blalock then delivered a ground rule double to score Rodriguez and give the Rays a 2-0 lead.
The Twins cut the lead in half in the fifth inning. Luke Hughes struck a solo home run that cleared the tiki bar to pull within a run of the lead 2-1.
The Rays added some runs to the scoreboard in the seventh inning. Dan Johnson doubled to lead off the inning. Hank Blalock then drew a walk to put runners on the corners. A wild pitch by Jeff Manship scored Johnson and moved Blalock to second. Then Kelly Shoppach drew a walk . Justin Ruggiano drove home two runs with a triple to left, scoring Blalock and Shoppach to give the Rays a 5-1 lead.
Minnesota added another run in the ninth inning off an RBI double by Trevor Plouffe. But the Rays held on to take a 5-2 win.
James Shields picked up his first win of the season by pitching 5 innings and allowing 1 run on 4 hits with 3 strikeouts. Rafael Soriano followed with his first appearance and allowed 1 hit with 2 strikeouts. Joaquin Benoit recorded his third hold of the spring by a shut-out inning with two hits and a strikeout. Grant Balfour pitched a no-hit eighth inning. Lance Cormier surrendered 1 run on 2 hits in an inning.
RP Top Prospect Watch:
Reid Brignac: 1 for 3 with a walk.
A Look Ahead: The Tampa Bay Rays (11-3) head to Tampa to take on the defending champion New York Yankees (5-8) on Thursday night at Steinbrenner Field. Carlos Hernandez will start followed by Jeff Bennett, Heath Phillips, Dale Thayer and Heath Rollins.
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