Now that the Minnesota Twins’ early-season struggles appear to have ended with a convincing win over one of the AL East’s best teams, they’ll try to continue their recent dominance at home over that division’s perennial doormat.
Minnesota looks for its 10th straight win at the Metrodome over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays as the teams start a four-game series on Thursday night.
The Twins (5-3) have outscored Tampa Bay 60-24 since losing to them on June 3, 2004. The Devil Rays (3-5), last-place finishers in the AL East for eight of their nine years of existence, are trying to post back-to-back road wins for the first time since June 28-30 over Florida and Washington, respectively.
After being outscored 18-3 in consecutive lopsided losses to the Yankees, the Twins got a solid outing from Russ Ortiz en route to a 5-1 win on Wednesday. Ortiz - who led Washington with 11 wins last year - gave up one run and three hits over eight innings with one walk and four strikeouts.
“I want to keep it going like that,” Ortiz said, who struck out Alex Rodriguez twice to end his home run streak at four games.
Carlos Silva (0-1, 1.80 ERA) pitched well in his season debut, but Minnesota’s offense failed to take advantage. In a 3-0 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Saturday, Silva allowed one run and five hits over five innings in frigid conditions that included snow flurries.
The right-hander was 11-15 with a 5.94 ERA last season, but 7-6 with a 4.94 ERA at the Metrodome. He faced the Devil Rays in last season in Tampa, limiting them to one run and one walk over six innings, but he didn’t get a decision in a 4-2 loss on Sept. 6 - Minnesota’s only defeat in the seven-game season series.
Silva is 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA in three career starts versus the Devil Rays.
Tampa Bay posted a rare road win on Wednesday, holding off Texas 6-5. Ben Zobrist and Carlos Pena each hit their first homers of the year, and the Devil Rays won for just the fifth time in their last 41 road contests.
“It was a big win in the sense that we’ve got to get better on the road,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said after his team also snapped a six-game slide in Texas. “We won one out of three. We need to get to where we win two out of three.”
Casey Fossum (0-1, 17.18) makes his second start of the season and will be looking for his first career win over the Twins. The left-hander, who underwent shoulder surgery in September that cut short his 2006 season, lasted just 3 2/3 innings in his debut Saturday against Toronto and gave up seven runs and eight hits in an 8-5 loss
He’s made three starts against the Twins - none since July 2005 - and has no record and a 4.91 ERA when facing them. Fossum was 2-4 with an 8.08 ERA in 11 road starts last year, giving up at least five runs in seven of them.
Rookie Akinori Iwamura continues to shine for the Devil Rays. The Japanese-born third baseman has hit safely in his first eight major league games and is batting .444 (12-for-27) with nine runs.