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Preview: Rays (51-48) at Twins (49-48)
BT Movements  ·  Line Movements
Game: 1
Venue: Target Field
Date: April 26, 2011 8:10 PM EDT

Starting pitching has keyed Tampa Bay's turnaround following a brutal start.

The Minnesota Twins already have been stymied by the Rays' rotation.

Wade Davis looks to shut down the Twins for the second time in less than two weeks and help Tampa Bay move over .500 for the first time Tuesday night at Target Field.

The Rays (11-11) took three of four from Minnesota from April 14-17, limiting the Twins to 12 runs and a .234 batting average. All four Tampa Bay starters lasted seven innings, including Davis (2-2, 2.73 ERA) in the second game as he allowed one run and four hits in a 5-2 victory.


The right-hander followed that gem by yielding a run and six hits in seven innings in Wednesday's 4-1 win over Chicago.

That victory evened Tampa Bay's record at 9-9, helping the Rays become just the second team since 1900 - joining the 1991 Seattle Mariners - to reach .500 in April after starting the season 0-6.

Tampa Bay has split its four games since and is again in position to move above the break-even mark.

"Ever since we had that 0-6 start, our motto is, 'We want to win series,'" said James Shields, who pitched a four-hitter in Sunday's 2-0 win over Toronto for his second consecutive complete game.

"That's all we're worried about right now, we don't care about anything else. All we want to do is win series.'"

The Rays have won their last four series, posting 10 victories in 13 games after opening 1-8.

Tampa Bay's rotation has been instrumental to the turnaround. Its starting pitchers have worked seven or more innings in 11 of the past 12 games while posting a 2.65 ERA.

Like the Rays, the Twins (9-12) also are starting to come around, having won three straight and five of seven after opening 4-10.

Minnesota defeated Cleveland 4-3 on Sunday to take both games of the rain-shortened set for its first series win.

"We got that first one out of the way," said Jason Kubel, whose two-run double in the seventh inning Sunday put the Twins ahead. "Hopefully we can just keep rolling."

Delmon Young is expected to return to Minnesota's lineup after sitting out the last five games with sore ribs and the flu.

Young is off to a slow start, with no homers and six RBIs after hitting 21 home runs and driving in a team-high 112 runs last season. He was 3 for 13 at Tropicana Field last week.

Justin Morneau wasn't any better there, going 2 for 12, but he's had two hits and two RBIs in each of his two games since missing five with an illness.

Tampa Bay's Johnny Damon drove in six runs in the Minnesota series, while Matt Joyce went 8 for 14 (.571) with three doubles and three RBIs.

The Rays didn't have to face scheduled starter Francisco Liriano (1-3, 7.40) last week, and that likely worked to their advantage.

Liriano is 2-1 with a 2.16 ERA in five career starts against Tampa Bay. In his lone outing versus the Rays last season, the left-hander gave up a run and four hits while striking out 10 in seven innings of Tampa Bay's 8-6 comeback win July 3.

Liriano is coming off his best outing of the season, and he'll be going on seven days' rest after his start Friday was skipped because of a rainout.

Against Baltimore last Monday, Liriano allowed two runs, five hits and five walks in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-3 victory. He had a 9.42 ERA in losing his first three starts.

"We need him to get on a roll and start throwing the ball well," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "(This is) a really good builder for him."

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Rays at Twins
Tue, Apr 26 - 8:10PM EDT
Rays at Twins
Wed, Apr 27 Final 8 to 2
 Boxscores  •  Recaps
Rays at Twins
Thu, Apr 28 Final 15 to 3
 Boxscores  •  Recaps

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