Final
  for this game

Rays-Twins Preview

Jul 4, 2010 - 1:20 AM By BRETT HUSTON STATS Writer

Tampa Bay (46-33) at Minnesota (44-36), 2:10 p.m. EDT

James Shields and Nick Blackburn have to be thrilled that June is over, but both found some positives in the final outing of what was a dreadful month for both.

Shields tries to snap a seven-start losing streak Sunday afternoon at Target Field, where Blackburn finally has a win to build on as he looks to help his Minnesota Twins salvage a split of their four-game set with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Shields (6-8, 4.76 ERA) had a 2.99 ERA through his first 10 outings, but nothing's gone right in the past six weeks. His last win came May 20 - in relief - and he has an 8.55 ERA in his last six starts.

Blackburn (7-5, 6.02) can certainly relate. The Minnesota right-hander went 5-0 with a 2.65 ERA in May, but was 0-4 with a 12.05 ERA in his first five June starts prior to Tuesday's outing against Detroit.

While Blackburn was hardly spotless, he and the Twins (44-37) certainly won't argue with the result. He gave up four runs over seven innings in a confidence-boosting 11-4 win.

"Tonight felt completely different than I've felt in awhile," Blackburn told the Twins' official website. "Finally I wasn't battling my mechanics the whole game, I was just out there focusing on pitching and it felt a lot better."

Shields felt the same way about his final start last month, even though he failed to snap his losing streak. He was encouraged despite giving up five runs over five innings Tuesday at Boston in an 8-5 defeat.

"As far as I was concerned, it was some of the best stuff I've had all year," Shields told the Rays' official website. "... I'm just having some bad luck right now, I guess. I just have to keep grinding it out. There are a lot of positive things I did tonight and I have to build off that."

This will be Shields' first time pitching at Target Field, but he figures to be happy for a new start away from the Metrodome. He was 0-1 with a 6.19 ERA in three previous starts there.

Jason Kubel and Joe Mauer are both 7 for 15 (.467) versus Shields.

Blackburn was 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA in two starts against Tampa Bay (47-33) last season, but there's one batter he'll want to approach with caution. Rays catcher Kelly Shoppach is 6 for 9 with two homers against Blackburn.

While Shoppach seems like an unlikely candidate to get a big hit, perhaps the most obscure name on the Rays' roster delivered the big blow Saturday. Matt Joyce, batting .158, had a pinch-hit grand slam off reliever Matt Guerrier to cap a seven-run eighth inning in Tampa Bay's come-from-behind 8-6 win.

"I was ready from the fifth on," Joyce said. "I was on red alert, defcon 5. I had taken some swings in the cage and I was just ready for whenever I was needed."

Mauer had three hits Saturday to raise his career average versus Tampa Bay to .400 - his best against any AL opponent.






  • 5
    roots
    MattDOOM777 Added 5 roots

    Rays 7, Twins 4  FinalJul 5 10:46 AM


  • Twins 4, Rays 7 - FINAL
    TAMPA BAY ab r h rbi bb so lob avg
    S Rodriguez 2b 5 2 3 1 0 0 4 .276
    C Crawford lf 4 1 0 0 1 2 2 .316
    E Longoria 3b 5 1 3 3 0 0 1 .298
    W Aybar dh 4 0 0 0 1 2 4 .246
    M Joyce rf 3 0 0 0 0 1 2 .174
    va-G Kapler ph-rf 2 0 1 2 0 0 1 .225
    K Shoppach c

    Jul 4 5:22 PM


  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY DELMON YOUNG SCORED MICHAEL CUDDYER
    SITUATION: 3 RUNS IN, D YOUNG ON FIRST, J THOME ON SECOND, 0 OUTS
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 7
    MINNESOTA 4 BOTTOM,7TH
    DUE UP FOR MINNESOTA: J HARDY (.222, 0-FOR-2)

    Rays 7, Twins 4  Bot 7, 0 OutsJul 4 4:30 PM


  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY JIM THOME SCORED JASON KUBEL AND JUSTIN MORNEAU
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, J THOME ON FIRST, M CUDDYER ON THIRD, 0 OUTS
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 7
    MINNESOTA 3 BOTTOM,7TH
    DUE UP FOR MINNESOTA: D YOUNG (.293, 0-FOR-2)

    Rays 7, Twins 3  Bot 7, 0 OutsJul 4 4:26 PM


  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY GABE KAPLER SCORED EVAN LONGORIA AND CARL
    CRAWFORD
    SITUATION: 5 RUNS IN, G KAPLER ON SECOND, 2 OUTS
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 7
    MINNESOTA 1 TOP,7TH
    DUE UP FOR TAMPA BAY: K SHOPPACH (.234, 1-FOR-3)

    Rays 7, Twins 1  Top 7, 0 OutsJul 4 4:13 PM


  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY EVAN LONGORIA SCORED JASON BARTLETT AND B.J.
    UPTON
    SITUATION: 3 RUNS IN, E LONGORIA ON FIRST, C CRAWFORD ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 5
    MINNESOTA 1 TOP,7TH
    DUE UP FOR TAMPA BAY: W AYBAR (.250, 0-FOR-2, BB)

    Rays 5, Twins 1  Top 7, 0 OutsJul 4 4:04 PM


  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
    ERROR BY NICK BLACKBURN ALLOWED CARLOS PENA TO SCORE.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J BARTLETT ON SECOND, B UPTON ON THIRD, 0 OUTS
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 3
    MINNESOTA 1 TOP,7TH
    DUE UP FOR TAMPA BAY: S RODRIGUEZ (.279, 3-FOR-3, HR, RBI)

    Rays 3, Twins 1  Top 7, 0 OutsJul 4 4:01 PM


  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY SEAN RODRIGUEZ (6) TO LEFT CENTER WITH 0
    OUT IN THE 3RD OFF NICK BLACKBURN.
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 2, MINNESOTA 1
    DUE UP FOR TAMPA BAY: C CRAWFORD (.319, 0-FOR-1)

    Rays 2, Twins 1  Top 3, 0 OutsJul 4 2:46 PM


  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY JUSTIN MORNEAU SCORED JOE MAUER
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J MORNEAU ON SECOND, 2 OUTS
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 1
    MINNESOTA 1 BOTTOM,1ST
    DUE UP FOR MINNESOTA: J KUBEL (.260, 10 HR, 44 RBI)

    Rays 1, Twins 1  Bot 1, 0 OutsJul 4 2:30 PM


  • AL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    TAMPA BAY 1 1 2 0
    MINNESOTA 0 0 0 (BOT 1)


    CURRENT PITCHERS: TAM - JAMES SHIELDS
    MIN - NICK BLACKBURN

    DUE UP FOR MINNESOTA: D SPAN (.278, 3 HR, 35 RBI)
    O HUDSON (.274, 3 HR, 19 RBI)
    J MAUER (.303, 3 HR, 34 RBI)

    Rays 1, Twins 0  Bot 1, 0 OutsJul 4 2:22 PM