|Twins starter Nick Blackburn gave up six hits and six runs in 1 1/3 innings vs. the Rays. (Steve Nesius/Associated Press)|
Rays ease by Twins
Victory includes replay reversal
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - One more win and the Tampa Bay Rays are in.
The AL East leaders closed in on a playoff berth last night, beating the Minnesota Twins, 11-1, behind Carlos Peña's homer and four RBIs - with help from the first reversal produced by baseball's instant replay system.
The Rays, who had never won more than 70 games in a season before this year, retained a 1 1/2-game lead in the division over the Red Sox and moved within a victory of clinching at least a wild-card spot.
They can earn the first postseason berth in their 11 seasons by winning one of two remaining games in this series against Minnesota, which fell 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Chicago White Sox in the AL Central.
Tampa Bay also can wrap up a spot if the White Sox and New York Yankees lose at least once.
"It's very exciting to be in this position, and to move on to the postseason would be great. But that's just one of the goals. It's also to win the division and to get the best record in the league," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We want home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. I don't want anyone to be satisfied with where we're at."
Edwin Jackson (12-11) allowed one run and seven hits in 7 2/3 innings. Minnesota avoided a shutout with Joe Mauer's sixth-inning sacrifice fly.
Peña's drive to right field off Boof Bonser appeared to be touched by a fan before bouncing off the top of the fence. First base umpire Mike DiMuro signaled fan interference, and Peña stopped at second base for a two-run double.
The umpires huddled immediately and decided to look at the video for the third test of the system since Aug. 28, when baseball allowed umpires to begin using it to determine boundary calls.
The crowd of 28,306 broke into cheers when the umpires returned to the field after a delay of 4 minutes 10 seconds, and crew chief Gerry Davis signaled home run, giving Peña a three-run shot that made it 9-0.
"I was glad they went and checked . . . and I think they got it right," Peña said. "I always thought it was a home run."
"The whole thing is getting it right," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They got it right. That's all we care about."
Peña also drew a walk with the bases loaded in the second inning and finished 2 for 3. Evan Longoria drove in three with a double in the first off Nick Blackburn (10-10), a sacrifice fly in the second, and a fielder's choice in the sixth.
Minnesota's starting pitching continues to struggle. A night after Glen Perkins allowed five runs in two-thirds of an inning in a game the Twins rallied to win, 11-8, Blackburn gave up six runs and six hits in 1 1/3 innings.