(Updated: UPDATES Rays 2 1/2 games behind Angels for AL’s second wild card)
The Tampa Bay Rays go after a much-needed, three-game sweep when they host the slumping Minnesota Twins on Wednesday afternoon in the series finale. Lucas Duda knocked in both runs in Tuesday’s 2-1 victory as the Rays won for the 10th time in 15 games to climb back to .500 at 70-70 while handing Minnesota a fourth loss in its last five contests, including three in a row.
Tampa Bay’s red-hot Logan Morrison (seven homers in his last eight games) missed the contest due to stomach issues and is day-to-day, as the Rays stand 2 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Angels for the American League’s second wild card. Blake Snell hopes to continue his resurgence on the mound when he starts the finale for Tampa Bay against Minnesota rookie Aaron Slegers. The Twins, who are 1-4 against the Rays in 2017, managed four hits Tuesday and left the tying run at third base in the bottom of the ninth inning when Eddie Rosario grounded into a double play to end the threat. Joe Mauer had a single to break up Jake Odorizzi’s no-hitter in the seventh inning and extended his hitting streak to 14 games for Minnesota, which plays its next five on the road.
TV: 1:10 p.m. ET, FSN North (Minnesota), FSN Sun (Tampa Bay)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Twins RH Aaron Slegers (0-0, 2.84 ERA) vs. Rays LH Blake Snell (3-6, 4.02)
Slegers makes his second major league start after allowing two runs on two hits and two walks with three strikeouts in a no-decision against Cleveland on Aug. 17. The 25-year-old Indiana product is 15-4 with a 3.40 ERA, striking out 119 across 148 1/3 innings, at Triple-A Rochester this year. The 6-10, 245-pound Slegers was a fifth-round pick in 2013 and has gone 43-29 in five minor league seasons.
Snell boasts three straight victories and has been a different pitcher over his last eight starts with a 2.92 ERA, completing at least six innings in six of those outings. The 24-year-old Seattle native gave up one unearned run over 6 2/3 innings in a victory over the Chicago White Sox last time out as the Rays won for the fifth time in his past six starts. Snell limited Minnesota to one run over 5 1/3 innings in a no-decision last year.
1. Mauer needs one RBI to snap a tie with Justin Morneau (860) for sole possession of fifth place on the club’s all-time list and is 23-for-55 during his hitting streak.
2. The Rays have homered in a season-high 16 straight games and are two shy of reaching 200 for the second straight year.
3. Twins OF/DH Robbie Grossman homered Tuesday in his first game back after missing 18 with a fractured thumb.
PREDICTION: Rays 5, Twins 2