Rays-Twins Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated September 13, 2013
Clinging to the AL's second wild-card spot, the Tampa Bay Rays would appear to have a good chance to help their cause this weekend. The visiting Rays go for a 10th consecutive victory over the lowly Minnesota Twins in the opener of a three-game set Friday night. Tampa Bay (79-66) had dropped five of six and 13 of 17 before beating Boston 4-3 on Thursday. Desmond Jennings homered and Wil Myers went 2 for 3 with two RBIs, including a tiebreaking double in the eighth inning. "We needed it bad ... we needed to win bad," said Myers, who is 12 for his last 31. "With the wild-card getting tight, we needed a win here." The Rays are two games behind Texas for the wild-card lead and one ahead of third-place New York. "We've got to keep winning," Myers added. "Just not one and lose tomorrow. We need to win this series coming up and keep it going the rest of the year." Tampa Bay has taken 20 of 26 from Minnesota (63-82), including nine straight by a 52-25 margin. Ben Zobrist is hitting .354 with four homers and 19 RBIs over a 17-game stretch against the Twins, and Evan Longoria has seven homers and 34 RBIs in 33 games. The Rays now give the ball to Chris Archer (8-7, 3.19 ERA), who will try to avoid losing a career-worst third consecutive start. After yielding a season high-tying five runs in 3 2-3 innings in an 11-2 road loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Sept. 2, Archer was tagged for three runs in four innings Saturday in a 6-2 defeat at Seattle. "I'm sure if we weren't in such a tight pennant race, two solo homers wouldn't lead to me coming out," said Archer, who was pulled after throwing just 75 pitches. "Considering the situation, I have to understand, we are trying to do what is best for the team." The 24-year-old right-hander could benefit from facing Minnesota, which has managed 27 runs during a 2-6 stretch. Archer allowed one unearned run and three hits in six innings to beat the Twins in his only matchup in the series, 4-1 on July 9. Loser in 12 of 14 at home, Minnesota is coming off an 8-2 defeat Thursday to Oakland. Oswaldo Arcia stayed hot with two hits, including his second homer in three days. "He's still got things to learn. He still gets a little nonchalant," manager Ron Gardenhire said of Arcia, who is 9 for his last 27. "But hopefully he'll get there. He's a strong young man, and he can hit the baseball." The Twins will turn to Kevin Correia (9-11, 4.30) in hopes of bouncing back. The right-hander had gone 2-2 with a 1.80 ERA over his previous five starts before allowing five runs in six innings Saturday in an 11-2 loss to Toronto. "You just have to ride with him and try to get through five or six innings because we don't have enough pitchers right now," Gardenhire said of Correia, who gave up all five runs in the first. Correia surrendered three runs and a season-high five walks in 5 1-3 innings in a 4-3, 13-inning loss at Tampa Bay on July 10. Kelly Johnson, who hit a two-run shot off him in that game, is 9 for 25 with five homers in their matchups. Johnson, though, is mired in a 3-for-25 slump. Myers is batting .354 with six homers and 18 RBIs in his last 26 road games.
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