Rays-Twins Preview

Johnny Damon’s recent tear helped the Tampa Bay Rays end their

homestand on a high note.

All-Star David Price can help get their road trip started in

similar fashion.

Tampa Bay looks to continue its dominance against the Minnesota

Twins on Monday when the Rays begin a seven-game trip.

Damon went 3 for 5 with a three-run triple and four RBIs as

Tampa Bay (47-37) beat St. Louis 8-3. It followed his 4 for 4

performance Saturday when the Rays defeated the Cardinals 5-1.

”Things just happened to go right these past two games,” Damon

said. ”We beat a very good team. A team that will possibly be

playoff bound and World Series bound. It’s good to beat a very good

team, especially here at home, where we haven’t been playing

well.”

Damon is hitting .372 with nine RBIs during an 11-game hitting

streak against the Twins. He went 5 for 13 with three RBIs in Tampa

Bay’s three-game sweep in Minnesota from April 27-29.

”It’s just everything that he does,” manager Joe Maddon said.

”We need that kind of influence here. He just handles it as well

as it possibly can be handled. The way he goes about his

business.”

With 2,661 hits, Damon is two behind Nellie Fox for 68th on the

all-time list.

The Rays have won four straight on the road and five in a row at

Target Field, streaks Price (8-6, 3.43 ERA) looks to help

extend.

Selected to his second straight All-Star game, Price ranks in

the top 10 in the AL in victories, strikeouts and innings pitched.

The left-hander allowed two runs and struck out a season high-tying

12 through 7 2-3 innings Tuesday against Cincinnati, though he

didn’t earn a decision.

Price is 1-1 with a 1.74 ERA and 24 strikeouts in three career

starts against Minnesota.

Tampa Bay has won six of the first seven meetings this season,

with scheduled Twins starter Brian Duensing (5-7, 4.69) getting the

lone victory April 17.

Duensing allowed two runs in seven innings in that contest, and

the left-hander has alternated wins and losses his last five

starts. He beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-4 on Tuesday despite

allowing four runs and walking a season-high four in five

innings.

He’ll look to help keep Minnesota (36-46) rolling after the

Twins rallied for a 9-7 victory Sunday against Milwaukee, their

fourth win in five games. The lone loss in that stretch came

Saturday, when Minnesota blew a seven-run lead and lost 8-7.

Michael Cuddyer, selected as the Twins’ only All-Star, went 2

for 4 with a pair of RBI singles.

”If you’re not able to put one particular game in your rearview

mirror, you’re not going to have too much success,” said Cuddyer,

who is 5 for 27 versus the Rays this season.

Jim Thome hit his 595th homer in the fourth inning Sunday, and

Danny Valencia capped a four-run seventh with a two-run single.

Against the Rays though, the Twins’ offense has struggled.

Minnesota hasn’t scored more than four runs in any of the seven

games and is hitting .213.

Joe Mauer is hitting .400 in 34 games lifetime versus the Rays,

but this will be the first time he’s faced them this season. He

went 1 for 3 on Sunday and is hitting .370 during his eight-game

hitting streak.

Maddon said third baseman Evan Longoria will be back in the

Rays’ lineup after having Sunday off.