Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 4/22/12
Back in the lineup, B.J. Upton appears ready to once again contribute for the Tampa Bay Rays. Coming off a big performance in his second game of the year, Upton looks to help the Rays to a second straight victory and a series win over the Minnesota Twins on Sunday at Tropicana Field. Coming off a 2011 season where he hit 23 home runs and drove in 81, Upton began this year on the disabled list with a lower back strain. He went 0 for 3 during his season debut in Friday's 5-4 loss to Minnesota, but was 2 for 3 and knocked in the first two runs of Tampa Bay's 4-1 victory Saturday. "This is where I wanted to be the whole time," Upton told the Rays' official website. "Unfortunately, I had to do what I had to do to get back. But now that's all behind me. I'm ready to chip in any way I can to help this team win." Tampa Bay (8-7) is glad to have him in the mix as it tries to improve to 5-1 at Tropicana Field and avoid losing its first home series to Minnesota since 2006. After James Shields allowed one run over eight innings in the middle game of the set, scheduled Tampa Bay starter Jeff Niemann (0-2, 4.50 ERA) hopes his past success against the Twins will continue as he tries again for his first win of 2012. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.97 ERA in five starts versus Minnesota, and lasted seven innings in each of the last three. Niemann has not made it past the fifth in either of his two outings this season. He allowed five runs - two earned - in a 7-3 loss at Toronto on Tuesday and wasn't helped by teammate Evan Longoria, who became the seventh player in Rays history to make three errors in a game. It's the third time in four years he's started 0-2. "I need to do a better job," said Niemann, who allowed homers for two of the three hits the Blue Jays had off him. While Niemann's teammates have contributed to his lack of early positive results, Twins scheduled starter Francisco Liriano's struggles have been almost entirely self-inflicted. Liriano (0-2, 11.91) has allowed five earned runs in each of his first three starts and hasn't lasted past the fifth inning in any of those outings. He gave up seven hits and four walks in 2 1-3 innings of an 8-3 loss at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday. "Nothing is bothering me. I'm 100 percent healthy," said Liriano, who has walked nine and struck out eight in 2012. "I'm just missing my spots and pitching behind the count and you get hurt." The left-hander is 2-2 with a 4.43 ERA in seven starts versus Tampa Bay, but he gave up 12 runs, 12 hits and eight walks in 7 1-3 innings while going 0-1 in two starts against the Rays in 2011. Twins star Joe Mauer went 2 for 4 on Saturday to raise his average to .446 (33 of 74) in 19 career games at Tropicana Field. He is 2 for 6 against Niemann.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Arum says Pacquiao would fight McGregor if Mayweather won't

Aaron Judge hits first grand slam of his career

David Stern: Lakers could have had Chris Paul, GM panicked

Brandon Jacobs vows to 'expose' Jim Harbugh, get him fired

Mike Zimmer won’t retire even if right eye goes blind

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Kevin Love responds to Draymond Green’s ‘annihilation’ trash talk

Spike Lee deletes Instagram post saying Kaepernick signed with Seattle

Errol Spence is the real deal, takes down Kell Brook

Indians reveal Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field

Report: Jerry West considered rejoining the Lakers before they hired Magic Johnson

The NHL is thinking about hosting an outdoor game in Nashville

Journey to the Stanley Cup Final: Pittsburgh Penguins

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Box Score 5/26: Bring on the Finals

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Journey to the Stanley Cup Final: Pittsburgh Penguins

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker