Since scoring 20 runs in a victory last week, the Minnesota Twins’ run production has steadily decreased.
Away from home for the first time since that outburst, the Twins will try to improve on the majors’ worst road record as they begin a three-game series versus the Rays.
Minnesota (24-25) wrapped up a seven-game road trip May 21 with a 20-1 rout of the Chicago White Sox that snapped a season-high six-game losing streak and nine-game . The Twins carried that momentum home and scored 23 runs in a three-game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers before totaling 15 in a four-game split with the Boston Red Sox, but were held to four runs in the last two games, including a 3-1 loss Thursday.
Manager Ron Gardenhire and backup catcher Mike Redmond(notes) were ejected in the top of the seventh after a play at the plate. Designated hitter Joe Mauer(notes) had to replace Redmond behind the plate, forcing the Twins to play without their DH the remainder of the game.
“I couldn’t believe he threw me out, honestly,” Redmond said. “I don’t go out there, ever, to get thrown out. Especially knowing that Joe’s DHing. … He just had a short fuse I guess.”
The Twins have scored at least three runs in each of their five games against Shields (3-4, 3.63 ERA), including a 4-3 home win April 28, and five or more in three matchups.
The Tampa Bay right-hander, who gave up five earned runs at home to Minnesota on Sept. 18, has allowed at least 10 hits in three of his last four starts. He yielded a season-high 12 and four runs Sunday at Florida but did not factor in the decision.
The Rays (23-27) are trying to snap a season-high five-game skid that ended with a four-game sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Indians. Tampa Bay, which went 2-5 on a seven-game road trip, lost 2-1 on Thursday - scoring its only run after Willy Aybar’s(notes) homer was confirmed by video review.
“It was a strange series, all in all,” manager Joe Maddon said. “We need to play some games at home. We need to get our mojo back.”
The reigning AL champs, 11-10 at home, have won five of their last seven at Tropicana Field and are 4-2 in their last six there against the Twins.
Minnesota, which has won six of its last eight overall, is 5-14 overall on the road.
In their attempt for consecutive road victories for the first time since April 24 and 25, the Twins will look to Scott Baker(notes) (2-5, 6.32), who will try to win back-to-back starts for the first time this season. The right-hander threw a season-high 8 1-3 innings Sunday to earn the victory in a 6-3 win over Milwaukee.
Baker was reached for four runs over six innings in a home loss April 27 to the Rays and is 0-2 with a 9.31 ERA on the road.