Minnesota Twins Take on Tampa in Battle for Second (Worst)
The Minnesota Twins Travel to Tampa as They Look to Climb Out of American League Cellar
The Minnesota Twins can finally touch the team in front of them in the AL standings, the Tampa Bay Rays.
Minnesota has been trying to climb back to respectability, and beating the Rays will help them get up one rung out of last place.
Both teams are coming off four games series Monday-Thursday, with the Twins taking three of four from first place Cleveland, and Tampa splitting four (winning last two) against the defending champs, the Kansas City Royals.
The two teams met in early June, with the Rays taking three of four at Target Field.
You might remember that series as the one where Evan Longoria homered in every game of the series, including twice in the finale.
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Tampa homered 11 times in that four gamer, and the Twins had still only won 16 games one week into June. A lot has changed since that series, and not just the rosters because of the trade deadline.
Logan Morrison terrorized the Minnesota Twins pitching in with four home runs of his own. Since then, he’s only gone deep three times, and last week was placed on the disabled list with a strained forearm.
Oswaldo Arcia was a Twin the last time these two teams met, now he’s a Ray. He too, is on the DL.
Tomorrow night’s starter, Chris Archer, leads all of Major League Baseball in losses (5-15), despite leading the AL in strikeouts (161).
Many thought Archer would have been moved at the trading deadline, but Tampa feels Archer is young enough (27) and talented enough to help lead the Rays back to AL East relevance.
As of this writing, the Minnesota Twins still have Miguel Sano employed with the big club, despite rumors that he would be sent down to work on his defense at third base.
The guess here is that Sano and Trevor Plouffe will trade places once Plouffe considers himself ready after a few rehab games with AAA Rochester.
Friday Night Game
Ervin Santana (4-9, 3.66 ERA) vs Blake Snell (3-4, 3.08 ERA)
6:10 PM CDT Tropicana Field
TV: Fox Sports North
Saturday Night Game
Jose Berrios (2-1, 8.57 ERA) vs Chris Archer (5-15, 4.38 ERA)
5:10 PM CDT Tropicana Field
TV: Fox Sports North
Saturday Day Game
Kyle Gibson (3-6, 4.94 ERA) vs Matt Andriese (6-2, 2.72 ERA)
12:10 PM CDT Tropicana Field
TV: Fox Sports North
TAMPA BAY: The Rays traded their winningest starter, Matt Moore, to the San Francisco Giants before Monday’s trading deadline. Matt Andriese will once again be promoted from the bullpen in Sunday’s finale.
He won his start, and improved to 4-0, against the Minnesota Twins on June 4th, going five innings and allowing just three runs in a 7-4 win. He won his next start and was promptly moved to the bullpen. He will be on a pitch limit, in the 75-80 range, due to the length of time between starts.
Longoria, despite a recent slump, has continued to power the way for the Rays this season. His 23 home runs give him 20+ for eight of his nine seasons as a major leaguer.
PITCHING: With Moore being dealt, the Rays look to get younger on the mound. Rookie Blake Snell will make his first career start against the Twins tonight, and he’s coming off a nice July.
While his record was just 2-2, he pitched into at least the sixth inning in each of his five starts.
Only once did he allow more than three earned runs in a July start, and he’s also a good strikeout pitcher. On the season, he has struck out 49 batters in 49 2/3 innings pitched, including a nine strikeout, no runs start against the Rockies in Colorado.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Chris Archer. While the Twins have developed some control and patience at the plate lately, they are still prone to striking out – especially in crunch time situations. Archer is trying to avoid being the second pitcher in American League history to lead the league in losses and strikeouts.
Nolan Ryan is the only pitcher to ever do so.
Against current Twins hitters, Archer has only allowed three extra base hits in 60 at-bats, with 14 strikeouts and only one walk.
Brian Dozier looks to turn it around versus Archer. He’s 1-for-14 lifetime, with four K’s.
HITTING: Shortstop Brad Miller helped the Rays earn a split against the Royals, homering in each of the past two wins over KC.
His status as a shortstop could be in question, however, as the Rays recently traded for the Giant’s third baseman, Matt Duffy, with the intention of making him their shortstop once he comes of the DL.
Miller will be the shortstop for at least the Minnesota Twins’ series, before moving over to a logjam at first base (sound familiar?) with Logan Morrison and Steve Pearce. Miller started off horribly (12-for-70), but has improved every month since.
In his last seven games, he’s hitting .321 with four home runs and six of his nine hits for extra bases.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Until proven otherwise, Longoria. After the display he put on against Twins pitchers in June, Longoria is probably champing at the bit for another chance. Against current Twins pitchers, he has a slash .327 AVG / .587 SLG / 7 HR / 19 RBI in 104 at-bats.
MINNESOTA: The biggest question was answered this afternoon when the lineup cards were introduced, Jorge Polanco will be the third baseman once again, with Sano the DH. Kennys Vargas and Sano will probably alternate at the DH spot until Plouffe returns.
The biggest surprise is manager Paul Molitor moving Kurt Suzuki into the five hole, above Robbie Grossman and Eduardo Escobar.
Next: Twins Win Series Against Cleveland
Ervin Santana has been on a roll lately, with a 1.96 ERA over his last eight starts. The MinnesotaTwins made a sound move in keeping Santana on the roster. They wouldn’t be able to sign a free agent this off-season as productive as Santana, nor as cheaply.