Twins attempt to prevent sweep in Tampa Bay (Sep 06, 2017)

BY AP • September 7, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Minnesota Twins will try to end a recent slide and get back into the second American League wild-card position when they face the Tampa Bay Rays in a Wednesday matinee at Tropicana Field.

The Twins (71-67) have lost four of their past five games and have been outscored 13-5 by the Rays in the first two games of the three-game series. Thanks to Minnesota's 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Tuesday, and the Angels' 8-7, 10-inning win at Oakland, Los Angeles moved a half-game up on the Twins for the second AL wild card.

The Twins struggled with Rays starter Jake Odorizzi on Tuesday, failing to get a hit against him until Joe Mauer singled in the seventh inning. Minnesota mounted a comeback attempt in the ninth but could not scratch across a second run against Rays closer Alex Colome.

"What you want to do at this time of year is play good, clean, crisp baseball," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Hopefully you win your share."

Robbie Grossman, who returned to the Twins' lineup after missing 18 games with a fractured left thumb, hit a home run in the ninth inning.

Molitor hopes the effort will carry into Wednesday.

"You want to see your guys play (well), but like we talk about, it's about winning and losing," Molitor said. "That was the third time in the last five days that we've come up a little bit short late. The effort is good, the results just haven't been over the last few days in particular."

Minnesota will send right-hander Aaron Slegers (0-0, 2.84 ERA) to the mound on Wednesday. Slegers, who was recalled from Triple-A on Monday, went 15-4 with a 3.40 ERA in 24 starts for Rochester this season. He will take Dillon Gee's turn in the rotation.

"He's done what he's needed to do," Molitor said. "I like how he matches up against the (Rays) lineup as well."

In Slegers' only previous major league appearance, he allowed two runs on two hits in 6 1/3 innings during a no-decision against the Cleveland Indians on Aug. 17.

The Rays (70-70) will send out left-hander Blake Snell (3-6, 4.02 ERA) as they go for the sweep and try to get one game above .500.

Tampa Bay is playing its best baseball at the right time, having won 10 of its past 15 games. The Rays are 2 1/2 games back of the second wild-card spot, but they seem to like their position going into the final weeks of the season.

"There's absolutely no reason (we can't make the playoffs)," Tampa Bay first baseman Lucas Duda said. "I don't even think it's a doubt in our mind, to be honest with you."

Snell has arguably been the Rays' best pitcher since the middle of August. He has won three of his past four starts and hasn't lost a decision since July 24.

In his lone career appearance against Minnesota, Snell allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings during a no-decision on Aug. 5, 2016.

Tampa Bay hopes that Logan Morrison will return to the lineup Wednesday after he was scratched Tuesday due to a stomach virus. Morrison leads the Rays with 36 home runs and 82 RBIs.

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