Minnesota (4-9) at Tampa Bay (5-8)

Cloudy Currently: St. Petersburg, FL
Temp: 80° F
  • Game info: 4:10 pm EDT Sat Apr 16, 2011
  • TV: FOX
Preview | Box Score | Recap

After a rough start, the Tampa Bay Rays are starting to turn things around.

The Rays look for a fifth consecutive victory while trying to hand the Minnesota Twins their fourth straight loss Saturday at Tropicana Field.

A night after hitting a game-winning two-run homer in the series opener, Johnny Damon(notes) had a two-run single to highlight Tampa Bay’s 5-2 win over Minnesota on Friday. The Rays (5-8) have won five of seven since starting 0-6.

“We’ve got a long way to go,” winning pitcher Wade Davis(notes) said. “But we’re starting to jell a little bit and everybody’s starting to play good baseball.”

Though they are still not pounding the baseball, the reigning AL East champions have scored 37 runs in their wins compared to 21 in the losses. Tampa Bay also has scored more than three runs in consecutive games for the first time this season.

Damon went 1 for 19 to begin his first season with the Rays, but is 10 for 31 with 11 RBIs during a seven-game hitting streak.

With three hits Friday, leadoff hitter Sam Fuld(notes) is 5 for 9 in the series and batting .429 in his last six games.

After Davis allowed a run in seven innings, Tampa Bay’s Jeff Niemann(notes) (0-2, 8.31 ERA) looks to bounce back from a pair of rough outings and remain undefeated against the Twins.

The right-hander has allowed five runs in each start, the latest coming over 2 2-3 innings of a 6-1 loss at Chicago on Sunday.

Niemann, however, is 2-0 with a 3.26 ERA in three starts versus Minnesota.

The Twins counter with Scott Baker(notes) (0-2, 6.55), who also looks to pitch better than he has so far this season.

Baker has allowed four runs and two homers in each of his two starts. He lasted five innings in a 5-3 loss to Oakland on Sunday.

“It happens pretty quick,” Baker told the Twins’ official website. “I (am) a couple pitches away from having a decent outing.”

The right-hander has a good chance to bounce back against the Rays considering he allowed one run, nine hits and struck out 15 over 15 innings while going 1-0 in two starts versus Tampa Bay in 2010.

Baker allowed three hits over eight scoreless innings in the Twins’ 2-1, 13-inning victory at Tropicana Field on Aug. 4.

A day after star catcher Joe Mauer(notes) was placed on the disabled list with leg weakness, the reigning AL Central champion Twins (4-9) managed just four hits.

Losers in five of six, Minnesota averages 2.9 runs and has a .283 on-base percentage this season.

“Right now we’re not getting it done. It’s obvious,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We don’t like to lose around here. We’re not accustomed to it, and we’re not going to get accustomed to it. We won’t let that happen.”

After recording three hits the previous two games, All-Star Justin Morneau(notes) went 0 for 3 on Friday to see his average dip to .224.

Third baseman Danny Valencia(notes), however, is 4 for 7 with two RBIs in the series.

With Friday’s defeat, the Twins have gone five straight seasons without winning a series at Tropicana Field.

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Starting Pitchers

S. Baker LAD vs. J. Niemann TB
8-6 Record 11-7
3.14 ERA 4.06
123 K 105
32 BB 37
1.17 WHIP 1.24


Saturday, Apr 16