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Life After Joe: Twins, Sans Mauer, Take On Rays

The Minnesota Twins blew a golden opportunity yesterday and wasted a great start by Carl Pavano, but hope to bounce back this evening as they do battle again with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Pavano pitched eight shutout innings and appeared to be in line to get the win, but the Twins committed a rare feat by blowing the save not once, but twice. Joe Nathan allowed two runs in the bottom of the ninth, and after the Twins pulled ahead in the top of the tenth, Matt Capps allowed a two-run home run to Johnny Damon to give the Rays a walk-off victory.

The Twins are looking at at least a couple of weeks without catcher Joe Mauer, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list yesterday with bilateral leg weakness. Drew Butera will be the regular catcher in Mauer's absence, and Steve Holm was called up from Rochester yesterday to be the backup.

Tonight's pitching match-up will see Nick Blackburn (1-1, 0.77 ERA) climb the hill for the Twins, while the Rays will counter with Wade Davis (0-2, 4.38 ERA).

The lineup for the Twins tonight looks like this:

Denard Span, center field
Matt Tolbert, shortstop
Jason Kubel, right field
Justin Morneau, first base
Delmon Young, left field
Jim Thome, designated hitter
Michael Cuddyer, second base
Danny Valencia, third base
Drew Butera, catcher

The Rays will send up the following:

Sam Fuld, left field
Johnny Damon, designated hitter
Matt Joyce, right field
Felipe Lopez, third base
B.J. Upton, center field
Sean Rodriguez, second base
Dan Johnson, first base
Kelly Shoppach, catcher
Reid Brignac, shortstop

First pitch is about half an hour away, at 6:10 PM Central time.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.