ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Minnesota Twins started the new month like they ended the last one. Winning, with home runs leading the way.
Marwin Gonzalez and Byron Buxton both connected and drove in two runs as the Twins kept scoring, beating the Tampa Bay Rays 6-2 on Saturday.
Minnesota, which owns the best record in the majors at 39-18, has scored at least three runs in 25 straight games, setting a single-season franchise record.
“We expect a lot out of ourselves, so maybe we’re a little ahead of where we thought we’d be,” winner Kyle Gibson said. “But I would say surprised probably isn’t necessarily the right word. We had a pretty good feeling we were going to be pretty good.”
Minnesota, 10 1/2 games ahead of second-place Cleveland Indians in the AL Central, set single month records in May for homers (56) and runs (191) while going 21-8.
The Twins, who lead the majors with 108 homers, failed to go deep while splitting the first two games of the series at Tropicana Field.
“Their offense is leading all of baseball in many categories and there’s a reason why … they’re balanced,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Hitting the ball out of ballpark at the rate they are and not striking out shows they’ve got some really quality hitters.”
Gibson (6-2) allowed one unearned run and six hits over five innings.
Minnesota went up 2-1 on consecutive RBI doubles by Jorge Polanco and Gonzalez in the third off Yonny Chirinos (6-2).
After Buxton had an RBI single during the fourth, Gonzalez made it 4-1 on a fifth-inning solo shot.
The Twins took a 5-1 lead on Buxton’s homer in the sixth off Hunter Wood.
Miguel Sano had an RBI double during the seventh to complete a stretch where Minnesota scored in five consecutive innings.
“I think a strength of ours is the kinds of hitters that we have and the adjustments that our guys do make as they go around the lineup,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said.
Travis d’Arnaud had a run-scoring single in the second for the Rays.
Tampa Bay loaded the bases with two outs in the third but Gibson got a grounder from Christian Arroyo.
Arroyo hit a solo homer in the eighth.
Twins: DH Nelson Cruz, sidelined by a strained left wrist since May 14, is joining Class A Fort Myers for a short rehab stint.
Rays: Backup C Michael Perez (strained right oblique) could start a rehab assignment Sunday with Class A Charlotte. … INF Yandy Diaz (bruised left hand) homered in an extended spring training game and might be reinstated from the 10-day IL Sunday.
With Tampa Bay starting outfielders Tommy Pham (right calf cramp) and Avisail Garcia (hamstring) out of the lineup for the second straight game, 1B Nate Lowe was recalled from Triple-A Durham and reliever Adam Kolarek was optioned to the International League club.
Rays reliever Emilio Pagan said he has small bruise on the right cheek one day after having Jonathan Schoop’s liner Friday night graze both a knuckle on the right hand and his face. Pagan was able to remain in the game.
Tampa Bay’s Brandon Lowe was taking his lead from third base in foul ground when he fell to the ground after being hit on the lower leg by Arroyo’s foul ball in the third. Lowe stayed in the game.
Twins RHP Jake Odorizzi (7-2) will go against Rays LHP Ryan Yarbrough (4-1) in Sunday’s series finale. Tampa Bay’s plans to use an opener were changed due to a taxed bullpen.
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