ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Minnesota starter Bailey Ober retired all nine batters he faced through three innings against the MLB-best Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday.
Then the umpires had him wash his hands after a foreign-substance inspection before taking the mound in the fourth. Before the inning was done, the 6-foot-9 right-hander had lost his perfect game and the lead as the Rays went on to beat the slumping Twins 4-2 for a three-game sweep.
Randy Arozarena walked with two outs in the fourth. Luke Raley had an RBI triple and Harold Ramírez hit a two-run homer off Ober to put the Rays up 3-1.
The start of the inning was delayed when Ober left the field to wash his hands.
“I had too much sweat on my hands, and I use the rosin when I’m out on the field, so he thought it was too much and told me just go back in there and wash my hands,” Ober said.
“It got in my head a little bit that I didn’t feel safe out there, like, you never know if he checks me again and he’s a little ticked off that he can toss me. It was a little hard finishing out that game but even after that I got the first two guys out in that inning.”
Minnesota still leads the AL Central despite falling under .500 at 31-32, and has scored a combined seven runs in the past six games.
Ober (3-3) gave up four runs, three hits and two walks over 5 1/3 innings.
“It’s a little frustrating,” he said. “I’m not using anything (illegal) out there. … It’s sweat and rosin, and I still get asked to wash my hand off. It’s the first time all year that’s happened. I haven’t changed anything.”
Umpire crew chief Jeff Nelson said it was an issue of some residue, and out of an abundance of caution he directed Ober to wash it off.
“We didn’t observe anything that was sticky and suspicious,” Nelson said. “It’s better to make it a non-issue by cleaning it up.”
Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said he “get didn’t an explanation” for what happened.
Rays manager Kevin Cash felt the delay was for another matter.
“I was of the assumption that he went to the bathroom and took a little while to get out,” Cash said.
Yonny Chirinos (3-1), recalled from Triple-A Durham before the game, allowed one run and five hits over 5 2/3 innings in his first big league appearance since April 29. Jason Adam, the third Rays reliever, worked the ninth to get his 10th save in 14 chances.
Tampa Bay is 29-6 at home, has won six in a row overall and is 46-19 on the season. It’s the best home start since the 1998 World Series champion New York Yankees also opened 29-6.
Carlos Correa, who returned Tuesday after missing three games after reaggravating plantar fasciitis in his left foot, and Michael A. Taylor homered for the Twins, who have lost a season-high five consecutive games.
Tampa Bay went ahead 4-1 in the sixth when Wander Franco stole third and came home when reliever Griffin Jax stepped off the rubber and made an errant throw to third.
The Rays have stolen a team-record 31 consecutive bases without being caught.
Correa hit his seventh homer, a 107 mph, 406-foot drive to left, leading off the fourth. It was his first long ball since May 13.
Taylor had an eighth-inning solo shot off Colin Poche.
Twins DH Jorge Polanco experienced left hamstring tightness running to first base after his 108 mph first-inning liner up the middle deflected off Chirinos and Nelson before turning into a forceout at second. Donovan Solano replaced Polanco.
Rays: 1B Yandy Díaz (left hip flexor) was out of the lineup for the second straight day.
Twins: RHP Sonny Gray (4-1) and Toronto LHP Yusei Kikuchi (6-2) are Friday night’s starters.
Rays: RHP Tyler Glasnow (0-0) will make his third start after beginning the season on the injured list with a left oblique strain. He faces Texas LHP Andrew Heaney (4-3) in the opener of a three-game series between the teams with the best two records in the American League.
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