Rays-Twins Preview

Minnesota’s Scott Baker has been dominant at home for more than

a month. He’s also been pretty good against the Tampa Bay Rays of

late.

The right-hander looks to continue his success at Target Field

while trying to help the Twins to a third consecutive victory

Tuesday night against James Shields and the Rays.

Baker (6-5, 3.15 ERA) has not allowed a run in his last 16 1-3

innings at Target Field after he yielded six hits and struck out

nine over 7 1-3 of a 1-0 win over the Dodgers on Wednesday. He has

surrendered just one run and struck out 32 in 31 1-3 innings while

going 3-0 in his last four home starts.

“He’s confident and he’s attacking,” manager Ron Gardenhire

said. “I don’t think he worries about too much out there. He just

goes and attacks.”

Baker has a 1.89 ERA while winning four of five starts

overall.

“I’ve really felt good the past four or five outings and three

of them happened to be at home,” Baker said. “I’m making good

two-strike pitches right now and been able to finish some hitters.

If I do that I feel pretty good about it.”

Baker is 1-0 with a 0.82 ERA in his last three starts against

the Rays (47-38). He allowed one run and four hits in seven innings

of a 4-3 loss at Tropicana Field on April 16.

He will try to help the Twins (37-46) stay hot after they

snapped a five-game home skid to Tampa Bay with a 7-0 win Monday.

Brian Duensing tossed a six-hitter, Danny Valencia hit a three-run

homer and Michael Cuddyer added a solo shot for Minnesota, which

has won five of six after losing six in a row and 20 of 29

overall.

Valencia has hit .529 (9 for 17) with two homers and nine RBIs

in his last four games. Cuddyer, headed to his first All-Star game

next week, is batting .429 (6 for 14) with two homers and five RBIs

over the last four.

Cuddyer’s hit .400 (6 for 15) with two doubles and a home run

against Shields (8-5, 2.45), who will be joining him on the AL

All-Star roster.

After giving up just one earned run while recording three

straight complete-game victories, Shields surrendered four runs and

struck out 10 in seven innings of a 4-3 loss to Cincinnati on

Wednesday.

“I think I was two pitches away from having a shutout,” Shields

said. “It’s kind of the way the game works between giving up no

runs or four runs.”

Shields is 2-0 with a 3.60 ERA in his last three starts against

the Twins. He allowed two runs in seven innings of a 4-3, 10-inning

victory over Minnesota on April 14.

Casey Kotchman had two hits Monday for the Rays, who had

averaged 8.8 runs in their previous five games in Minnesota. Tampa

Bay has lost four of seven after winning eight of nine.

Kotchman continues to fare well at the plate, hitting .351 in

his last 15 games. He’s batted .462 (6 for 13) over his last three

games at Target Field.