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Big League Stew

Rays hot at plate with Santa in stands at snowy Minnesota

David Brown
Big League Stew

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The Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays wish you a merry Christmas from Target Field.

Santa danced in the stands (next to his favorite elf ... King Kong?), snowflakes fell in chilly Minneapolis and they played Christmas carols like "Jingle Bell Rock" on the public address system. The date: Wednesday, April 27.

Watch Santa dance!

Though it sounds like quite an advantage for the outdoorsy Twins, it was the Floridians from a domed stadium who made themselves at home in an 8-2 victory.

Ignoring weather conditions that reminded them of Game 5 of the 2008 World Series, the Rays improved to 12-11 and moved above .500 for the first time after starting the season 0-6.

Bundled up, with many players busting out the Elmer Fudd caps with ear flaps, Tampa-St. Pete pounded left-hander Francisco Liriano (everyone's doing it) for seven runs over four innings. Conversely, right-hander Wade Davis was stingy for Tampa Bay.

"We played like it was 75 and sunny," manager Joe Maddon said.

The Rays opened the game with five straight hits, scoring four times, and kept the Twins' defense on the field for 17 minutes in the first inning. Liriano's ERA is 9.13 (it's even worse than 9-1-1!) and he has allowed nearly two baserunners per inning.

Hey, this story needed a Grinch, did it not? {YSP:MORE}

"We didn't pitch," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Our lineup didn't do anything but the pitcher got us behind. That had nothing to do with our lineup. We had a couple chances to get a big hit and get a run too, but we didn't do that too."

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Ben Zobrist tripled and drove in three runs; Super Sam Fuld walked three times and scored twice; Johnny Damon drove in a pair. But, because of numerous injuries, the Twins' lineup was makeshift again.

"I'm worried about everybody, OK?" Gardenhire huffed. "We got two games tomorrow so we got a lot to worry about. There's a lot to worry about when you got two ballgames and not very many on the bench."

Not very merry, either. He's allowed to be grumpy, though. Joe Mauer is still out of the lineup and Delmon Young is headed to the disabled list because of a rib injury. Jim Thome wasn't available Wednesday because of a sore oblique.

The Rays, who have been playing short as well, got some welcome news in their stocking on the injury front: Evan Longoria plans to start an injury rehab assignment Thursday and hopes to join the major league team at ho-ho-home on Tuesday.

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