MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Big league batting leader Luis Arraez hit his first career grand slam and the Minnesota Twins spoiled Shane Baz’s season debut, beating the Tampa Bay Rays 6-5 on Saturday.
Arraez got at least three hits for the seventh time this season, raising his average to .367. He has three home runs this year, including two in the last three games.
“No, never,” Arraez said when asked if he’s now a power hitter. “I just try to hit the ball. … Felt really good. When I hit that ball far, it felt amazing.”
Arraez homered as part of a five-run third inning against Baz (0-1), Tampa Bay’s top pitching prospect who returned after elbow surgery in March. Baz allowed five runs in 2 1/3 innings on three hits and three walks.
“I think he just lost command for whatever reason, can’t exactly pinpoint right now why he looked good the first two innings and then just lost the strike zone,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Arraez is really good, obviously, look at his slash line right now.”
Trevor Megill (2-1), one of five Twins relievers who each pitched a scoreless inning, worked the fifth. Emilio Pagán earned his eighth save as the Twins took the first two games of the series.
Baz, who made four strong rehab starts with Triple-A Durham, looked crisp early with two perfect innings before running into trouble in the third.
Gilbert Celestino led off with a single and then Baz, the dynamic right-hander, walked the next two hitters ahead of Arraez, whose slam put the Twins ahead 4-3 and was followed with a big bat flip that went several feet in the air.
“After that walk, I’ve got to reel it back in after that,” Baz said. “So, nothing felt different. It was just, I think, a matter of making a focus on putting the ball in the zone.”
Jorge Polanco then walked and came home on Jose…