Tampa Bay’s offense appears ready to join its potent pitching staff as the Rays continue to be major players in the American League playoff race. The Rays will try for their fifth straight victory when they send ace David Price to the mound against the host Minnesota Twins on Saturday. The Rays, who average 4.1 runs per game – third-worst in the American League – have scored 26 in their last four games, including Friday’s 12-6 victory in the series opener. The barrage coincides with the return of three-time All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria, who re-entered the lineup Tuesday after missing 85 games with a hamstring injury. He is 5-for-15 with four RBIs in the four contests while serving as the designated hitter.
The Tampa Bay Rays are tied with the Oakland Athletics, one-half game behind the Detroit Tigers and Baltimore Orioles in the AL wild card race. They are six games behind the New York Yankees in the AL East. Tampa Bay has the third-best ERA in baseball and leads the American League with a 3.40 mark, including an MLB-best 2.36 since the All-Star break. Price would be considered a favorite to win his first Cy Young Award if not for the Angels’ Jered Weaver and his 15-1 record. Price, who has won six straight decisions and hasn’t lost in nine starts, will oppose Nick Blackburn, who is winless (0-3) in his last six outings.
Rays Twins Betting
When: 7:10 PM ET, Saturday, August 11, 2012
Where: Target Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, Sun Sports (Tampa Bay), FS North (Minnesota)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Rays LH David Price (14-4, 2.49 ERA) vs. Twins RH Nick Blackburn (4-7, 7.42)
Price, who has 146 strikeouts in 148 innings, has recorded two consecutive no-decisions. He allowed two hits in eight shutout innings in a 1-0 loss to Baltimore on Sunday after yielding three runs and striking out 11 in seven innings in a 4-3 loss loss at Oakland on July 30. Price is 1-2 in five games (four starts) with a 2.63 ERA against the Twins. Minnesota’s roster is hitting .146 against him, with Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau a combined 3-for-19 (.158) with six strikeouts.
Blackburn allowed four runs and nine hits in five innings in Minnesota’s 6-4 loss at Boston on Sunday. His previous start was better, when he allowed two runs and five hits in eight innings and didn’t receive a decision in a 4-3 loss to Chicago on July 31. Blackburn is 2-4 with a 7.20 ERA in six career starts against Tampa Bay. The Rays’ roster is hitting .350 against him, with Evan Longoria (4-for-12, five RBIs) and B.J. Upton (6-for-13, three RBIs) the most productive.
1. Price will try to become the first Rays pitcher in history to win 15 games in two separate seasons.
2. Minnesota’s Josh Willingham has 84 RBIs, tied for third in the majors with Detroit’s Prince Fielder. The Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera and the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton lead with 96.
3. Rays LHP J.P. Howell has recorded 22 consecutive scoreless innings, tying the franchise record set by Fernando Rodney. His streak covers 18 outings since June 14. He hadn’t allowed a hit in his last eight innings before yielding two in one frame Friday.