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Series Preview: Twins look to keep racing against the Rays

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The Twins are currently in the second wild card spot and they’ll need to beat the Rays this week to stay there.

Minnesota Twins v Tampa Bay Rays
WE’RE SO HOT RIGHT NOW!
Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

This week’s three-game series against the Rays is crucial for the Twins. I know we say that a lot, but frankly, it’s true. When you’re in the thick of an eight-team wild card race with a month to go in the season, everything is crucial. Everything is important. One bad series could make or break the team’s chances of reaching the postseason.

Also, it’s Aaron Slegers’ birthday!

Speaking of Slegers, the Twins have already announced that he’ll be starting Wednesday’s game in Tampa Bay. It would have been Dillon Gee’s “turn” in the rotation, even though, personally, it felt more like Gee just made three spot starts in a row than that he ever officially joined the rotation. Anyway, Gee will go back to a long-relief roll in the bullpen, and Slegers will make his second major league start. Slegers’s first major league start against the Indians back on August 17th went pretty well, so hopes are high he can repeat that effort against the Rays.

As for tonight, Jose Berrios will be taking the mound for the Twins. In his last start, Berrios struck out eleven batters over 7.0 shutout innings against the White Sox. Pretty damn good! He’s only faced a handful of the current Rays in the past—including, obviously, Evan Longoria, who hit a dinger off Berrios—but in the past Berrios was bad, and now he is good. Everything is better now. Also, Berrios will be facing Alex Cobb, who the Twins have hit pretty well off of. Joe Mauer is literally batting 1.000 off him. Okay, yeah, Mauer has only three plate appearances against Cobb (resulting in one walk, one single, and one double, which is the most Joe Mauer-y collection of results ever), but hey DID YOU KNOW JOE MAUER IS BATTING OVER .300 AGAIN NOW!? Sorry, just wanted to point that out while I still could.

Tuesday night will feature a Jake Odorizzi versus Bartolo Colon match-up. Both Brian Dozier and Eddie Rosario have taken Odorizzi deep before, including just earlier this year for Rosario. Odorizzi has given up at least three runs in each of his last three starts, and twice failed to make it even 4.0 innings, so I think the Twins can get to him.

As for Bartolo, somehow none of the current Rays have ever homered off him. Not even Longoria. Oh god, he’s going to give up eight home runs, isn’t he? (That right there is called the reverse jinx, my friends! You can all thank me later for this.)

So yes, it will be a big series for the Twins, who’ll want to get a more secure hold on the wild card. They currently own the second wild card spot, and are only two games behind the Yankees for the first spot. Lots of other teams are hot on their heels, though, with both the Orioles and Angels 1.5 games behind, and the Mariners, Rangers, Royals, and hey, the Rays, all within 4.0 games.

Let’s do it, boys.

Pitching Match-ups

Game 1: Monday, September 4th; 6:10 pm CT — Alex Cobb RHP vs. Jose Berrios RHP

Game 2: Tuesday, September 5th; 6:10 pm CT — Jake Odorizzi RHP vs. Bartolo Colon RHP

Game 3: Wednesday, September 6th; 12:10 pm CT — Blake Snell LHP vs. Aaron Slegers RHP

Notes

  • The Rays just recalled old friend Trevor Plouffe in time for the series! After scuffling with the A’s and being released, Plouffe signed with the Rays and scuffled with them and got DFA’d down to their minors. But he’s back now! Hopefully he continues scuffling as long as the Twins are in town.
  • The Rays have had the worst team batting average with two strikes since the All-Star Break: .134 (111-for-828).
  • According to Mike Berardino, Miguel Sano is feeling a bit better, but still limited to non-impact conditioning. I think that means pool workouts and some weights. Anyway, Sano is not traveling with the team.

Poll

How many games against the Rays will the Twins win this week?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    0
    (4 votes)
  • 13%
    1
    (12 votes)
  • 58%
    2
    (51 votes)
  • 22%
    3
    (20 votes)
87 votes total Vote Now