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American League Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, August 11th (All times eastern)
Tampa Bay Rays (60-52) at Minnesota Twins (49-63), 7:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Tampa Bay - David Price (14-4, 2.49) Minnesota - Nick Blackburn (4-7, 7.42)
(Sports Network) - In his fourth full season, Tampa Bay Rays starter David Price's electrifying stuff has landed him on a short list of American League Cy Young Award contenders.
Through 22 starts, the left-hander is second in the league in both wins (14) and ERA (2.49). He is also among the league leaders in strikeouts (146), WHIP (1.13), batting average against (.222), and innings pitched (148).
Price is coming off one of his best starts of the season. Even though he earned a no decision in a 1-0 loss to the Orioles on Aug. 5, he pitched eight innings of shutout baseball, allowing just two hits while striking out five.
The 26-year-old has now pitched at least seven innings in nine straight starts, and he hasn't lost since June 13.
Though he's just 1-2 against Minnesota in his career, he has an ERA of 2.63 to go along with 32 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings.
For the Twins, Nick Blackburn will toe the rubber. He has been one of the least effective pitchers in the majors this season, going 4-7 with a 7.42 ERA in 17 starts.
The right-hander was sloppy once again his last time out on Aug. 5, earning the loss against the Red Sox after allowing nine hits and four earned runs in five innings.
Blackburn has given up three earned runs or less in just five of his starts this season and has lasted past six innings only twice.
In the first game of a weekend set on Friday night, the Rays doubled up the Twins, 12-6.
Tampa Bay came out of the gates hot with eight runs in the first two innings. Matt Joyce finished 2-for-4 with four RBI, with a two-run homer in the first inning and a two-run double in the second.
Joyce is thankful to have Evan Longoria back in the lineup, as the team has scored 26 runs in the four games since his return from the DL.
"When you add one of the game's best hitters, it impacts the players around him," Joyce said. "It helps you relax. It helps you to gain that confidence that you're going to score runs. For me, it's great to hit in front of a guy like that. They don't want to walk me to get to him. They're going to give me pitches to hit."
Desmond Jennings had three hits and three runs scored, while Jeff Keppinger and Jose Molina added two hits apiece.
Jeremy Hellickson (7-7) won for the third time in his last four starts. The run support was plenty enough to earn him the victory despite allowing seven hits and three earned runs in just five innings.
Cole De Vries (2-3) only recorded four outs in his 11th start of the season, getting shelled for seven hits and eight runs (seven earned), raising his ERA from 3.81 to 4.77 in the process.
Joe Mauer had three of the Twins' 12 hits on the night, while Ryan Doumit deposited his 13th long ball of the year.
Minnesota lost two of three matchups to Tampa Bay at the Trop from April 20-22 this season and went 3-7 in this series a year ago.
08/11 10:23:47 ET