The Minnesota Twins may be banged up, but they are making their move in the AL playoff race.
The Twins look to win their fourth straight on Monday when they open a four-game series against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at the Metrodome.
Minnesota (50-40) is without injured outfielders Torii Hunter and Shannon Stewart, who are both on the disabled list with foot problems. It’s a serious blow to the Twins, who have won 15 of their last 20 games to move within 6 1/2 games of AL wild card leader Chicago.
“We have guys beat up, but the good ballclubs work their way through it, and it gives other people the opportunity to play,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Hopefully, we’re deep enough as an organization to get through this thing.”
He also inserted Rondell White at designated hitter, and the veteran went 2-for-3 with his first homer of the season. White, hitting just .190 for the year, joined the team Sunday after Minnesota’s injuries forced him to cut short a rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Rochester.
“Ever since I’ve been up here, I was trying to do too much,” White said. “That was the problem before I left, trying to hit the ball 600 feet. When you don’t try to hit it is when you hit home runs.”
Minnesota’s Scott Baker (2-5, 6.06 ERA) will make his first start since being recalled from Rochester. He is replacing Boof Bonser as the Twins’ fifth starter after the rookie was sent down on July 5.
Baker went 3-2 with a 2.92 ERA in seven starts for the Red Wings. The right-hander, who is making his first career start against Tampa Bay (39-53), is 0-2 with a 6.86 ERA in his last four home starts for Minnesota.
Tampa Bay enters this game on the heels of a three-game sweep to the Los Angeles Angels over the weekend. It was a frustrating series for the Devil Rays, who felt several close calls went against them and culminated in the ejections of manager Joe Maddon and first baseman Travis Lee in Sunday’s 7-5 loss.
“I don’t know if they got in our heads, but I thought we were frustrated by the whole thing,” Maddon said. “When you feel as though some things are conspiring against you, you always get that feeling—especially when you’re on the road.”
Left fielder Carl Crawford is hitting .382 (21-for-55) with 11 RBIs over his last 13 games for Tampa Bay. He’s second in the AL with 32 stolen bases.
The Devil Rays have lost eight straight to the Twins, including all six meetings last season. Tampa Bay has dropped five straight and 13 of its last 16 games at the Metrodome.
Tim Corcoran (4-0, 1.57) seeks to win his fourth straight start for Tampa Bay. He’s 3-0 with a 1.45 ERA in three starts this year and also won out of the bullpen in his last appearance by throwing one scoreless inning in a 6-5 victory over the New York Yankees on July 9.
The right-hander, who has never faced the Twins, is bidding to become the first pitcher in franchise history to start 5-0.