Twins, Bullpen Can't Complete Sweep Of Rays

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Twins Turn To Liriano In Quest To Sweep Rays

The Minnesota Twins will look to win their seventh game in their last eight tries and attempt to complete a sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays when the two teams meet on Wednesday afternoon at Target Field in the last game of their three game series.

Since June 1, the Twins are 21-9, the best record in the majors over that span. . .particularly impressive when you figure that there was a six-game losing streak as part of that stretch. The Twins also continue to chug along despite missing Justin Morneau, Denard Span, and Jason Kubel. On Tuesday night, the Twins survived Scott Baker leaving early with an elbow strain and another shaky outing from Matt Capps to defeat the Rays 3-2.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Twins will give the ball to left-hander Francisco Liriano (5-7, 4.76 ERA). In his last start, Liriano pitched very well against the Milwaukee Brewers, allowing two runs and four hits over seven innings of work as the Twins knocked off the Brewers 6-2. The Twins have won three of Liriano's last four starts.

The Rays will counter with right-hander Wade Davis (7-6, 4.20 ERA). Davis had a personal three-game winning streak snapped in his last start, as he allowed two runs on six hits over seven innings in the Rays' 5-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. He has given up two earned runs or less in three consecutive starts, and has already beaten the Twins twice this season, allowing just three runs in 13.2 innings pitched against Minnesota.

First pitch from Target Field is scheduled for 12:10 PM Central time. You can check out the Game Thread at Twinkie Town for all of the in-game action, and be sure to check back here for the recap after the action is completed.

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Capps Shaky Again, But Twins Hold On For 3-2 Victory Over Rays

Matt Capps did his best Ron Davis impression in the top of the ninth inning on Tuesday night at Target Field against the Tampa Bay Rays, but the Minnesota Twins still managed to hang on for a 3-2 victory.

The Twins got out to an early lead against Rays' starter James Shields (8-6, 2.47 ERA). Ben Revere led off the inning with a single, and Alexi Casilla's double put runners on second and third with nobody out. After Joe Mauer struck out swinging, Michael Cuddyer brought Revere home with a ground out to third, giving the Twins an early 1-0 lead.

Minnesota struck again in the bottom of the third, when Casilla and Revere were on first and second, respectively, with one out. Mauer flew out to left for the second out, but Cuddyer came through once again with a single to right. Revere came in to score to make it 2-0, and an error by Matt Joyce allowed Casilla to come in as well to make the score 3-0.

Tampa Bay got a run back in the top of the fourth, thanks to an error by Danny Valencia on a ground ball by Casey Kotchman to make the score 3-1. Scott Baker (7-5, 3.01 ERA) appeared to be cruising, but Phil Dumatrait came out for the top of the sixth inning despite Baker having only allowed one run on three hits through five innings. Baker was diagnosed with a mild strain of his right elbow, and will be re-evaluated on Wednesday. Dumatrait performed well, allowing just one hit in 1.2 innings of work. Alex Burnett came in and retired Elliot Johnson on a fly ball to left to finish the seventh, and Joe Nathan gave up one hit in a scoreless eighth inning.

Then Matt Capps came in for the top of the ninth, and all hell attempted to break loose. Capps' first pitch was deposited into the left field seats by B.J. Upton, a solo home run that cut the Minnesota lead to 3-2. Capps then walked Kotchman, and followed that up by retiring Sean Rodriguez and Sam Fuld on fly balls. He then went to a full count on Kelly Shoppach before walking him to put runners on first and second, and Ron Gardenhire made the move to Glen Perkins. It marked the third consecutive save opportunity for Capps when he was unable to close the deal.

Perkins came in to face Twins killer Johnny Damon, and induced a weak ground ball to shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Nishioka fired the ball to first and, even though Damon appeared to be safe on the reply, first base umpire Gary Darling called him out, securing a 3-2 victory for the Twins, their third in a row and their second in a row over an American League All-Star, having beaten David Price on Monday afternoon. The save for Perkins was his second in as many chances.

The Twins will go for the sweep on Wednesday afternoon at Target Field, with first pitch scheduled for 12:10 PM Central time. The Twins will send left-hander Francisco Liriano (5-7, 4.76 ERA) to the mound, while Tampa Bay will go with right-hander Wade Davis (7-6, 4.20 ERA).

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Twins Pitcher Scott Baker Leaves Game With Mild Elbow Strain

Things have been going semi-well for the Minnesota Twins as of late. That must mean it's time for another injury.

Right-hander Scott Baker, who has arguably been the Twins' best pitcher in 2011, was pulled from his start on Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Rays with a mild strain of his right elbow, being replaced by Phil Dumatrait after five innings of work. He will be re-evaluated tomorrow.

Baker, who is 6-5 this season and reduced his ERA to 3.01 with his five innings of one-run ball on Tuesday night, went out of the game after five innings, allowing one unearned run to the Rays in the top of the fourth (as a result of an error by Danny Valencia) and allowed just three hits while striking out three and walking one.

We will have more updates on Scott Baker's injury as they become available. As of this moment, the Twins still lead the Rays by a score of 3-1.

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Duen-Slinger: Brian's Complete Game Shutout Helps Twins Past Rays

(The "Duen-slinger" name was stolen from the Twitter of Seth Stohs of Seth Speaks. If his site isn't one of your regular Twins-related stops, it should be.)

The Minnesota Twins had not had a great deal of success against the Tampa Bay Rays this season, having lost six of the seven meetings between the two teams this season. Brian Duensing, who had gotten the only victory the Twins had mustered against the Rays this year, continued his personal success against the Rays this year as he fired a complete game shutout to lead the Twins to a 7-0 win on Monday afternoon at Target Field.

Things got off to a bit of a rocky start for Duensing, as Johnny Damon and Sean Rodriguez both reached on singles to start the game. After Evan Longoria flied out to left, Duensing issued a walk to B.J. Upton to load the bases. Fortunately, he got Justin Ruggiano to ground into an inning-ending double play to end the threat.

The Twins got the scoring underway in the bottom of the second, after Danny Valencia singled to left. Luke Hughes then struck out, but a single by Jason Repko and a walk to Matt Tolbert loaded the bases, and up came the much-embattled Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Nishioka smashed a double to deep right field to bring home Valencia and Repko to make the score 2-0. Ben Revere then grounded out to shortstop, allowing Tolbert to score from third and make the score 3-0.

In the bottom of the third, Michael Cuddyer celebrated being named to his first ever All-Star game yesterday by launching a mammoth home run into the second deck in left field, a solo blast to make the score 4-0. Things then remained scoreless until the bottom of the eighth, when Danny Valencia hit a shot that barely cleared the left field wall for a three-run home run, making the score 7-0.

Duensing (6-7, 4.25 ERA) found himself a serious groove after getting battered around early. From the fifth inning onward, the Rays had only two baserunners, a walk to Elliot Johnson to lead off the fifth, and a one-out single to center by Rodriguez in the eighth. Duensing's final line had him allowing six hits and walking four while striking out seven in the complete game shutout.

Rays' starter David Price (8-7, 3.56 ERA) took the loss for Tampa Bay. He allowed four runs on five hits in six innings of work, striking out six and walking one in the process.

The second game of this three-game set will take place on Tuesday night at Target Field, with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 PM Central time. The Rays will give the ball to another All-Star, right-hander James Shields (8-5, 2.45 ERA), while the Twins will send Scott Baker (6-5, 3.15 ERA) to the hill.

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