A career .255 hitter against the Devil Rays coming into the season, the Minnesota left fielder looks for more success against them when the Twins continue their three-game set at Tropicana Field.
Jones is batting .571 (12-for-21) against the Devil Rays this season with four doubles, a homer and three RBIs. He finished a triple shy of the cycle, going 5-for-5 with a pair of solo homers in the Twins’ 7-3 win on Tuesday. The five hits matched his career high, set at Chicago last July 22.
“I just wanted to keep having good at-bats,” he said. “Hopefully, good things were going to happen if I had good at-bats.”
Jones’ performance Tuesday included his franchise-record 17th leadoff homer, and raised his batting average 30 points to .336. He is batting .410 (16-for-39) over his last eight games.
“He’s getting more and more consistent,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s one guy when he gets hot, he can be really hot.”
The Twins have won six of seven.
The loss, Tampa Bay’s second straight and sixth in eight games, was also its ninth consecutive against the Twins, its longest current skid against any team.
Toby Hall went 1-for-3 and drove in a run for Tampa Bay. The catcher has a homer and four RBIs in his last four games.
Joe Kennedy, who pitched the first one-hitter in Tampa Bay history in a 2-0 victory over Detroit on Friday, gets the start in this game. The 23-year-old left-hander beat the Twins in his lone home start on April 23, 2002, and is 2-1 with a 2.95 ERA in three career starts against them.
STANDINGS: Twins - 2nd place, 4 1/2 GB, AL Central. Devil Rays - 5th place, 11 1/2 GB, AL East.
TWINS PROBABLE STARTER: Joe Mays (3-2, 5.30 ERA). The Twins are 4-2 in Mays’ starts this season, including a 6-5 home victory over Tampa Bay on Thursday. The right-hander gave up five earned runs and seven hits over six innings, but didn’t get the decision. He is 0-2 with a 6.84 ERA in five career starts against the Devil Rays.
DEVIL RAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Kennedy (2-2, 4.37 ERA). Before shutting out the Tigers, Kennedy gave up six earned runs and 10 hits in six innings in his previous start—a 7-4 home loss to Baltimore on April 27.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Twins - Jones, .336 avg., 20 runs and 5 SBs; Bobby Kielty, Corey Koskie, Torii Hunter and Dustan Mohr, 4 HRs; Koskie and Hunter, 20 RBIs. Devil Rays - Rocco Baldelli, .341 avg.; Aubrey Huff, 8 HRs; Marlon Anderson, 22 RBIs; Carl Crawford and Huff, 19 runs; Crawford, 8 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Twins, 4-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Twins - Minnesota leads the AL with 12 triples. … OF Jones has just one hit in seven at-bats (.143) against LHP Kennedy. … 1B Doug Mientkiewicz took batting practice and might return to the lineup by Thursday. Devil Rays - Tampa Bay has struck out 145 times this season, tied with Detroit for the fewest in the majors. … Tampa Bay’s franchise record for consecutive losses to one team is 11 against the Red Sox in 2001 and the Yankees in 1998 and ’99. … The Devil Rays signed former Kansas City OF Mark Quinn to a minor league contract and assigned him to Triple-A Durham.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Twins - 10-8 on the road; Devil Rays - 8-9 at home.
INJURIES: Twins - INF Denny Hocking (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Mike Fetters (hamstring), 15-day DL; LHP Eric Milton (knee), 60-day DL; RHP Rick Reed (back), day-to-day; C A.J. Pierzynski (ankle), day-to-day; 1B Mientkiewicz (thumb), day-to-day. 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.