Despite losing five of their last seven games, the Minnesota Twins are just one-half game behind in the AL wild-card race.
Minnesota will try to reclaim the lead and extend its 12-game winning streak against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays when the teams open a three-game series Monday at Tropicana Field.
The Twins (78-57) are in third place in the AL Central, trailing the second-place Chicago White Sox by one-half game for the wild card. The teams are even in the loss column.
“I just want to win, and I’ll do anything to not let Chicago get into the playoffs,” Twins first baseman Justin Morneau said. “That’s all that matters. Obviously we’re still trying to chase Detroit, but you’d almost rather see anybody go in other than Chicago.”
Torii Hunter homered for the slumping Twins, who have scored a combined 15 runs in their last seven games after outscoring opponents 28-14 during a four-game winning streak.
Minnesota hit .202 as a team in losing two of three to the Yankees. However, the Twins have batted .368 with three homers in four games against Tampa Bay this season.
Meanwhile, the Devil Rays (55-82) enter this series hitting well and took two of three games from the Seattle Mariners this weekend.
Tampa Bay took the series with Sunday’s 7-6 win as Kevin Witt’s three-run homer in the eighth inning proved the game-winner.
“We want to win as many games as we can this month,” Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “We really want to finish well.”
Devil Rays right-hander Tim Corcoran (4-6, 3.97 ERA) takes the mound for Monday’s opener, trying to snap the worst losing streak of his short career.
Corcoran is 0-6 with a 5.20 ERA in his last nine starts and is seeking his first win since July 9.
He pitched effectively but failed to record a decision in last Wednesday’s start against the Chicago White Sox after he allowed one run and six hits while striking out seven in 5 1-3 innings of Tampa Bay’s 5-4 defeat.
Corcoran lost to the Twins at the Metrodome on July 17, allowing four runs and seven hits in six innings of a 6-3 loss.
Minnesota sends right-hander Boof Bonser (3-5, 5.17) to the mound to face Corcoran.
Bonser looks to rebound from last Wednesday’s loss to the Royals, when he allowed three runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings. The right-hander tied his career high with eight strikeouts but squandered a 2-0 lead in the sixth inning.
Twins second baseman Luis Castillo missed his fourth straight game Sunday with a sprained right ankle, but Gardenhire was hopeful Castillo would be able to play on Monday.