Tampa Bay Rays at Minnesota Twins

Tampa Bay is set to play its second opponent on six-game road trip, after making a stop in Boston over the past three days.  The Rays have finished June with a losing record and recently slipped into third place in the AL East for the first time since April 13.  The club hasn’t met the Twins in over 13 months, producing a 39-53 all-time record, including a 17-31 mark in the Metrodome.  This will be the first time the franchise will get to play in Target Field.  The Rays are 11-9 in their last 20 games versus the Twins following a club record 14-game losing streak.

Rays starting pitcher Jeff Niemann is 6-2 with a 2.72 ERA in 15 starts this season (+360), allowing just 78 hits in 99.1 innings of work.  The right-hander is a perfect 4-0 with a 3.02 ERA in seven road starts on the year (+760), with the club picking up a victory in every game.  Tampa Bay has provided him with 51 runs of support away from Tropicana Field.  He hasn’t picked up a victory since June 8, with the Rays going 1-2 over that span.  Niemann has two career appearances (one start) against the Twins, going 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA, allowing just a single run and three hits over seven innings.  He has compiled a 4-2 mark and 3.25 ERA in 10 overall starts in June in his three-year career.

Minnesota captured a series victory over the Detroit Tigers with a 5-1 victory on Wednesday afternoon, led by first baseman Justin Morneau’s two home runs.  “It’s just about getting to play better and more consistent”, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.  “It starts with pitching and we got a couple of good performances here.”  Catcher Joe Mauer took the day off for the series finale against the Tigers and should be well-rested for this weekend’s series.  He obviously wasn’t need, as the offense continues to get big-time production from outfielder Delmon Young.  He is batting .328 with 35 RBIs in 36 games since May 21.  The Twins finished June at 12-15, their lowest win total for the month since 2003.

Twins starting pitcher Carl Pavano is 9-6 with a 3.33 ERA in 15 starts (+160), including a current four-game win streak.  Over that span, he has allowed just six earned runs and 18 hits over 33 innings of work, while tossing back-to-back complete in the process.  The right-hander is a solid 5-3 with a 3.81 ERA in eight home starts (-40), managing to issue just 10 walks over 54.1 innings.  He actually has issued just 15 walks during the course of the entire season thus far (105.1 IP).  Pavano brings a 5-3 career record to the table against the Rays (+180), including an even 1-1 record and 3.00 ERA in two outings last season.

Bettors beware - despite carrying a fantastic 24-13 mark on the road this season (+890), the Rays are just 3-5 as a road underdog of +100 to +125 (-150).  This is typical Tampa Bay-fashion in this situation over the last three years with a 20-28 mark (-560).  There’s something about Thursday’s for the home team, posting a dismal 3-8 record this season (-790) and 17-30 over the last three (-2,020).

I suggest grabbing the cash with Minnesota -120 at Bookmaker.com