The Tampa Bay Rays continue their push toward one of two wild card spots in the American League as they visit the Minnesota Twins for a three-game series beginning Friday. Tampa Bay, which is coming off a three-game sweep of Toronto, is one-half game behind Detroit and Baltimore for the final wild card spot. The Rays have remained a strong postseason contender thanks to their pitching staff, which leads the majors with a 2.22 ERA – .97 better than second-best Atlanta – since the All-Star break. The Rays also lead in batting average against (.194) and WHIP (0.99) during that span. They have scored an AL worst 85 runs, though – the main reason they are only 14-11 in that span.
The Twins, who are 11 1/2 games behind the Chicago White Sox in the American League Central, have the third-worst home record in baseball (23-32) but were 4-2 on their latest homestand. They also enter the series coming off a 5-2 road trip to Boston and Cleveland. Tampa Bay took two of three from Minnesota in April and was 4-2 at Target Field last season. Tampa Bay’s Jeremy Hellickson looks to rebound after having his two-game winning streak snapped by Baltimore in his last start. He will oppose Minnesota rookie Cole De Vries, who is 0-1 with six no-decisions in his last seven starts.
Rays Twins Betting
When: 8:10 PM ET, Friday, August 10, 2012
Where: Target Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota
TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, Sun Sports (Tampa Bay), FS North (Minnesota)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Rays RH Jeremy Hellickson (6-7, 3.43 ERA) vs. Twins RH Cole De Vries (2-2, 3.81)
Hellickson allowed four runs, eight hits and walked four in four innings in the Rays’ 4-0 loss to the Orioles on Saturday, snapping his string of five consecutive quality starts. Hellickson, the 2011 American League Rookie of the Year, is 3-1 with a 3.21 ERA in eight road starts this season. He is 2-1, 3.98 in three career starts against the Twins, but has not faced them this season. The Minnesota roster is batting .160 in 25 at-bats against Hellickson, who has never faced Joe Mauer.
De Vries, in his 10th career start, allowed two runs, four hits, walked two and struck out five in seven innings in the Twins’ 6-4 victory over the Red Sox on Saturday, his fourth straight no-decison. He allowed eight earned runs, 10 hits, walked only four and struck out 17 in 24 innings during that span. He also allowed a homer in each of those four games. De Vries, who has a 1.12 WHIP, has never faced Tampa Bay or any of its players.
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1. Tampa Bay is averaging four runs per game – only Seattle (3.9) is worse in the American League.
2. Rays 3B Evan Longoria went 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs in Thursday’s 7-1 victory and was 5-for-12 with three RBIs in the series, his first three games since returning from a hamstring injury.
3. Twins 3B Trevor Plouffe (right thumb) could be activated for Friday’s game. Plouffe, who was eligible to come off the disabled list Saturday, was to be re-evaluated after a second consecutive batting cage session Thursday. Plouffe is second on the team with 19 homers.