Baldelli will try to help the Devil Rays avoid getting swept by the Minnesota Twins in their three-game series at the MetroDome. He hit his first major league homer and drove in all five runs for Tampa Bay in Wednesday’s 8-5 loss, the Devil Rays’ seventh straight to Minnesota.
Baldelli has a .369 average and 40 hits, a record for rookies through the month of April. He broke Ichiro Suzuki’s record of 39 hits set in 2001.
“If I feel confident out there, that’s all I can ask for,” Baldelli said. “I just try to stay comfortable.”
Baldelli’s big night was overshadowed by a contentious game that included five ejections and four hit batters.
“That’s baseball—you always see something you’ve never seen before,” said Torii Hunter.
Minnesota’s Brad Radke hit Toby Hall with two outs in the sixth and was immediately ejected. Because of the warnings, Twins acting manager Scott Ullger also was tossed—bench coach Steve Liddle finished the game.
The Twins have rebounded to win three of five after a six-game losing streak.
STANDINGS: Devil Rays - 4th Place, 11 GB, AL East. Twins - 3rd Place, 6 GB, AL Central.
DEVIL RAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Steve Parris (0-2, 5.46 ERA). Parris is 0-1 with an 8.10 ERA over his last two starts. The right-hander was touched up for five runs and eight hits in four innings of Tampa Bay’s 10-7 loss to Baltimore on Friday. Parris has allowed three or more runs in four of his five starts.
TWINS PROBABLE STARTER: Joe Mays (3-2, 4.85 ERA). Mays was outstanding in his last start, allowing one run and four hits over seven innings of a 6-1 win over the Chicago White Sox on Friday. The southpaw was 1-2 with a 7.14 ERA over his previous three starts.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Devil Rays - Baldelli, .364 avg.; Aubrey Huff, 4 HRs; Baldelli and Rey Ordonez, 20 RBIs; Carl Crawford, 17 runs and 7 SBs. Twins - Jacques Jones, .326 avg., 16 runs and 4 SBs; Kielty, 4 HRs; Hunter, 18 RBIs.
SEASON SERIES: Twins, 2-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Devil Rays - OF Baldelli went hitless in only two of 27 games in April. … SS Ordonez is batting .348 (8-for-23) with five doubles over the last five game. … 2B Damion Easley is hitless in his last eight at bats to lower his batting average to .200. Twins - Minnesota is on the verge of sweeping its fourth three-game series of the season. … Manager Ron Gardenhire was ejected for the sixth time in his career on Wednesday. Pinella has been ejected 65 times in his career as both a player and manager. … The Twins are near the bottom of the AL with 109 runs scored. Only Cleveland and Detroit have scored less.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Devil Rays - 2-9 on the road; Twins - 5-7 at home.
INJURIES: Devil Rays - OF Ben Grieve (thumb), 15-day DL; OF Damian Rolls (thumb), 15-day DL; LHP Jim Parque (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Bobby Seay (shoulder), 15-day DL. Twins - IF Denny Hocking (elbow), 15-day DL; LHP Eric Milton (knee), 60-day DL.