The Tampa Bay Rays made a big statement that they are still a serious playoff contender in the series opener and look to build off that momentum when they host the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday in the second of a critical three-game set. The Rays registered 13 hits - five for extra bases - to earn an 11-4 victory Monday and pull within three games of the Twins for the second wild-card spot in the American League.
Logan Morrison belted his seventh homer in eight games while Evan Longoria (three RBIs) and Corey Dickerson (3-for-4, two doubles, one homer, two RBIs) broke out of mini-slumps with big nights for Tampa Bay. Rays right-fielder Steven Souza Jr. (neck, back) is day-to-day after leaving Monday’s game, but his team will need a big effort regardless from right-hander Jake Odorizzi on Tuesday when he faces 44-year-old Bartolo Colon. Minnesota leads the Los Angeles Angels by a half game for the AL’s second wild card after losing for the third time in four games while giving up 16 runs in its last two contests. Veteran Joe Mauer takes a season-high 13-game hitting streak and a great history at Tampa Bay into Tuesday’s contest while emerging star Byron Buxton is 12-for-23 with three homers and 10 RBIs while hitting safely in six straight for the Twins.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Tampa Bay), FSN North (Minnesota)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Twins RH Bartolo Colon (6-10, 6.25 ERA) vs. Rays RH Jake Odorizzi (7-7, 4.85)
Colon has made a positive impact since coming to Minnesota, especially of late where he has gone 4-1 with a 3.18 ERA over his last six starts as the Twins triumphed in five of those. The Dominican Republic native, who owns 239 career victories, struck out a season-high eight while allowing three runs on 10 hits over six innings in a victory against the Chicago White Sox last time out. Dickerson is 3-for-3 with a triple versus Colon, who is 9-6 with a 4.07 ERA lifetime against the Rays.
Odorizzi earned the victory last time out while permitting three runs, four hits and three walks over five innings to end a five-game winless drought. The 27-year-old Illinois native has completed more than five innings once in his past six starts, yielding 20 runs and 20 walks over 26 1/3 frames during that span. Brian Dozier and Eddie Rosario have homered versus Odorizzi, who gave up two runs and seven hits across 5 2/3 innings of a no-decision against Minnesota on May 27.
1. Buxton became the fourth Twins player to steal 20 straight bases Monday and is two away from the club record held by Matt Lawton and Chuck Knoblauch.
2. Tampa Bay CF Kevin Kiermaier is 25-for-66 with 14 runs scored, three homers and 12 RBIs in 16 games since coming off the disabled list in mid August.
3. Mauer has reached base in 32 of his 33 career games at Tropicana Field (50-for-129) and is one RBI from passing Justin Morneau (860) for fifth on the club’s all-time list.
PREDICTION: Rays 7, Twins 5