American League Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, August 10th (All times eastern)
Tampa Bay Rays (59-52) at Minnesota Twins (49-62), 8:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Tampa Bay - Jeremy Hellickson (6-7, 3.43) Minnesota - Cole De Vries (2-2, 3.81)
(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Rays will begin their second lengthy road trip in less than a fortnight when they invade the Twin Cities this evening to take on Minnesota in the opener of a three-game series at Target Field.
Tampa Bay also will visit Seattle and the LA Angels on its 10-game road trip and went 6-3 on a recent road swing from July 24-Aug. 1. The club then returned home for six games versus Baltimore and Toronto, and recorded a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays with Thursday's 7-1 triumph at Tropicana Field.
Evan Longoria continued to swing the bat well since coming off the disabled list and went 3-for-5 with two RBI. Longoria is batting .333 with three RBI and a .417 slugging percentage in three games since being activated because of a hamstring injury.
Jeff Keppinger had three hits and a run scored for Tampa Bay, which is only one-half game off a Wild Card spot and went 4-2 on the homestand. The Rays completed their first sweep since June 8-10 at Miami and notched their first three-game winning streak since winning four in a row from June 7-10. They also picked up the first sweep at home since April 30-May 3 against Seattle.
"I think the offense is gonna continue to show signs of improvement," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "If we can play our regular game and do that offensively, we can get on a nice little run right here."
Matt Moore started for the Rays and earned the win with six innings of one-run ball, six strikeouts and only two walks. Kyle Farnsworth, J.P. Howell and Wade Davis combined to throw three scoreless innings of relief.
The Rays, who are 8-16 against the AL Central this season, will pin pitching duties on Jeremy Hellickson Friday and he hopes to get back into the win column. Since winning two straight starts, Hellickson fell back into the loss column with Saturday's 4-0 setback to Baltimore. He allowed four runs and eight hits in four innings and is now 6-7 in 20 starts with a 3.43 ERA.
Hellickson, a right-hander, is 2-1 with a 3.98 ERA in three career starts against the Twins and 3-1 in eight road assignments this season.
Minnesota is back home for a six-game residency and went 5-2 on a road trip against Boston and Cleveland. The Twins had won nine of 12 games overall and seven in a row against the Indians until dropping a 6-2 decision Wednesday.
Brian Duensing didn't do much to help his record and fell to 2-7 after giving up six runs -- four earned -- and 11 hits in seven innings.
"Tough ballgame for us," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Duensing deserved a little better than he got. We just didn't play well out there."
Alexi Casilla finished 2-for-3 with a two-run homer in defeat. Ben Revere was hitless in four at-bats and saw his 21-game hitting streak come to an end.
The Twins, who will also visit Detroit on the trek, hope rookie Cole De Vries can pitch them back into the win column when he takes the mound Friday. De Vries is 2-2 with a 3.81 earned run average and has posted four straight no- decisions. In a 6-4 win at Boston on Saturday, the right-hander held the Red Sox to a pair of runs and four hits in seven innings.
De Vries is 1-1 in five starts at Target Field and will face Tampa Bay for the first time. He went 3-5 with a 4.37 ERA in 13 starts for Triple-A Rochester before having his contract selected.
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.
08/10 10:48:27 ET