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Kyle Garlick homers twice as Twins beat Rays

Garlick was inserted into the lineup on Saturday to hit a lefty, and he did just that, helping propel the Twins past the Tampa Bay Rays 9-1

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Tampa Bay Rays
Minnesota Twins left fielder Kyle Garlick (30) hits a solo home run as Tampa Bay Rays catcher Mike Zunino (10) and umpire Jordan Baler (left) look on during the first inning on Saturday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Shane McClanahan proved a puzzle difficult for Twins batters to solve on Saturday.

Well, difficult for nearly all except Kyle Garlick and Carlos Correa.

Garlick was inserted into the lineup on Saturday to hit a lefty — his traditional role — and he did just that, helping propel the Twins past the Tampa Bay Rays 9-1 on Saturday at Tropicana Field with a pair of home runs.

“McClanahan’s got really good stuff. You know he’s got potential to strike out a lot of guys,” Garlick said. “It was nice to be able to put a couple good swings on him, put some runs on the board and then let everybody else kind of take it from there.”

Garlick’s first home run, a straight shot to dead center, traveled 416 feet before hitting off the batter’s eye. His second home run, which came after Correa beat out an infield single, knocked McClanahan out of the game and broke open a tie game.

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The duo combined for all four of the Twins’ hits off McClanahan, who otherwise struck out 11, including every Twins hitter besides Gio Urshela. For Garlick, it was the first multi-home run game of his career.

“For starters like Shane, runs are going to come at a premium. Today, he probably had the best stuff he has had in his big-league career, which showed with 11 strikeouts,” said Twins starter Chris Archer, McClanahan’s former teammate. “We have a really tough lineup. It’s not easy for a starting pitcher to run off strikeouts like that. What Garlick did was huge. We bat him right there in the middle of the lineup versus lefties for a reason, and the whole season he has showed why we do that.”

With McClanahan out of the game, the Twins (12-9) capitalized, forcing the Rays (12-9) to use five relievers one day before their planned bullpen game.

The Twins extended their lead in the seventh, taking advantage of an error by third baseman Taylor Walls to lead off the inning. Trevor Larnach brought home Gilberto Celestino, who reached on the error, with a double. Later in the frame, Max Kepler’s broken-bat single landed just past a leaping second baseman Brandon Lowe, who was stationed in short right field.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Tampa Bay Rays
Minnesota Twins shortstop Carlos Correa (4) congratulates Minnesota Twins left fielder Kyle Garlick (30) after hitting his second home run of the night during the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports

The Twins then blew the game open in the ninth inning, scoring four runs. One came home on Correa’s third hit of the day, which was his eighth in his past three games. Kepler also had a two-run home run.

“We talk about separation in games and look to the later parts of a ballgame, and good, winning teams do that,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “You can’t just allow good teams to stick around and stay within two or three runs. You have to continue to have good quality at-bats.”

While Archer got a no-decision, the offense breaking through after his departure, it made for a happy homecoming for the veteran starter. Archer, a Ray from 2012-18 and again in 2021, was starting at Tropicana Field for the first time in his career as a visitor.

He went four innings, giving up just two hits. One of those was a Walls home run, the only run he — or any Twins pitcher — would surrender.

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“It felt pretty comfortable for me. The only thing that was weird was going right to end the innings instead of going left,” Archer said. “Even watching the game in the dugout last night was a little weird. I’ve just never watched from that vantage point. You know, it was nice. The fans pregame were showing me a lot of love. I was fortunate to have some close friends and family in the stands as well. It was all around really nice for me.”

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Tampa Bay Rays
Minnesota Twins right fielder Max Kepler (26) hits a home run during the ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports

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