The Juice: Twins rally past Tigers in ninth, Matt Joyce lifts Rays with walkoff homer

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One for, one against the committee: Jim Leyland’s closer-by-committee experiment went smoothly in the Detroit Tigers opening day victory, but suffered a setback on the second go-round despite using essentially the same formula with right-hander Joaquin Benoit and left-hander Phil Coke.

Benoit was given the eighth and navigated through the meat of Minnesota’s order to maintain Detroit’s 2-1 lead. Like Monday, Leyland stuck with him to start the ninth. This time, though, Minnesota scratched out a base runner thanks to Trevor Plouffe’s walk. That's when Leyland went to Coke, which meant he'd have to retire at least one right-handed hitter in order to record his second save, and he wasn’t able to get it done.

Brian Dozier singled to put runners at the corners, and then unlikely hero Eduardo Escobar placed a ball right between Austin Jackson and Andy Dirks for a two-run double and a 3-2 walkoff victory for the Twins.

''He hit it a lot better than I thought,'' Detroit center fielder Austin Jackson said. ''I didn't think it was going out. I kept running, and it seemed like it kept carrying.''

Indeed the play and Jackson’s pursuit looked every bit as awkward as his description would suggest. It seemed both he and Dirks were going to have a good chance to haul it in, but the ball kept carrying and they kept looking at each other until it finally short-hopped the fence.

Re-Joyce, Tampa: Trailing Wei-Yin Chen and the Baltimore Orioles 4-0 through five innings, it appeared The Tampa Bay Rays were on the verge of an 0-2 start. That feeling disappeared quickly, however, as they struck for four to tie it in the sixth — Shelly Duncan’s three-run blast was the big hit — and then three more in the seventh to lead 7-5.

Of course the O’s wouldn’t go down easy themselves, chipping away with single runs in the eighth and another against the nearly flawless — in 2012 anyway — Fernando Rodney in the ninth to even the score at 7-7. That set the stage for Matt Joyce, who delivered his first career walkoff homer off Tommy Hunter to lock up the 8-7 victory.

Walk this way: The term "winning ugly" was created for games like this. San Francisco Giants starter Tim Lincecum walked a career-high seven hitters, yet managed to complete five innings with only two unearned runs allowed while picking up his first win of the season. He'll want to thank Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence for making it possible. Each man went yard in the 5-3 win over the Dodgers.

"It was definitely difficult, especially with this cold weather. It was tough to get a grip. I felt like I was making love to my hand." — Gio Gonzalez on dealing with the frigid temperatures in Washington.

Marathon in the desert: At 5 hours, 32 minutes, the St. Louis Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks played the longest (and grittiest) game in Chase Field history. Of course we say grittiest because Kirk Gibson's club pulled out the 10-9 win in 16 innings — and they did it with a lead-off walk, sacrifice bunt, and game-winning single by Cliff Pennington.

It's also possible they were motivated by last resort Heath Bell finally taking some warmup tosses as the winning rally commenced.

Walkoff Wednesday continues: Joey Votto knows how to get his name in the Juice. Hitless through his first six at-bats of the new season, the former National League MVP pulled a hard grounder towards Angels first baseman Albert Pujols that deflected off his glove and allowed Shin-Soo Choo to scamper home with the game-winning run in Cincinnati's 5-4 victory.

Mr. October meets the Big Show.


White Sox 5, Royals 2 (Sox launch four homers despite best efforts of Alex Gordon)

Rangers 4, Astros 0 (Houston, you have a contact problem)

Braves 9, Phillies 2 (A very special night for rookie Evan Gattis)

Pirates 3, Cubs 0

Nationals 3, Marlins 0 (Gio homers, Marlins still scoreless in '13)

Mets 8, Padres 4 (Matt Harvey records 10 strikeouts)

Red Sox 7, Yankees 4

Rockies 7, Brewers 3

Indians 3, Blue Jays 2

A's 6, Mariners 2

• For the first time in franchise history, the New York Yankees have allowed seven or more runs in each of their first two games.

• After going 0-for-4 on Wednesday, Matt Kemp is now hitless in his last 25 at-bats against the San Francisco Giants.

• Roy Halladay is the only pitcher since 1916 to strike out nine batters in a start that lasted 10 outs or fewer.

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