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Series Preview: Twins vs. Rays News And Notes

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Denard Span is surprised by Brian Dozier's latest dance move, which the shortstop is calling "The Lurch Sideways."
Denard Span is surprised by Brian Dozier's latest dance move, which the shortstop is calling "The Lurch Sideways."

The Twins take on Tampa Bay this weekend at Target Field. Below, a look at the Rays, as well as a few Twins updates.

Schedule (all games FSN)

  • Friday, 7:10pm: Cole De Vries vs. Jeremy Hellickson
  • Saturday, 6:10pm: Nick Blackburn vs. David Price
  • Sunday, 1:10pm: Scott Diamond vs. James Shields

Rays Notes

  • The Rays are right in the thick of the playoff hunt despite being in baseball's toughest division. With a sweep of the Jays this week, Tampa has moved just a half-game back in the wild card chase. If last year's any indication, they should pass Baltimore with about three minutes to go in the season.
  • The really surprising thing, though, is that the Rays done it by beating up on rivals. At 27-20, Tampa has the East's best intra-divisional record; they've just been awful against the Central, going 8-16. They've lost five of seven against Detroit, four of eight against Cleveland, and have lost all three games to both Chicago and Kansas City. In fact, the only team they have a winning record against in the Central is the Twins, against whom they're 2-1.
  • Evan Longoria missed 85 games due to a torn hamstring, but he returned to the lineup on Tuesday as the designated hitter. (He then promptly struck out three times in four at-bats on Wednesday, so there's a bit of rust to shake off, but still.) According to DRays Bay, the team was 41-44 without Longoria, a span in which Tampa's third and fourth hitters combined to bat .227 with 12 home runs.
  • This also helps explain Tampa's major problem this year, which is that the team can't score runs to save itself. The Rays are second-to-last in the American League in run, ahead of only Seattle. They're second-to-last in OPS, last in total bases - they've even only hit one more home run than the Twins. (This ties them for tenth in the AL.)

Twins Notes

  • Tsuyoshi Nishioka has not been released. This has been your hourly "Has Tsuyoshi Nishioka Been Released" update.
  • Trevor Plouffe is still at least a couple of days away from returning from his bruised thumb, and GM Terry Ryan says he may be due for a rehab assignment, according to MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger.
  • Kyle Gibson is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, writes La Velle, and the team's still hoping he could reach 40 innings this year - perhaps even with some in Triple-A.
  • Also according to La Velle, Anthony Slama has completed a rehab assignment and is rejoining the Rochester club, presumably to continue pitching incredibly well before being called up, given one inning of work, allowing a run, and then being lambasted by all and sundry in the Twins coaching' box and front office.