TV: FOX Sports Sun
TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Rays pitcher Chris Archer hasn’t had things go his way much this season.
If there’s an opponent that can turn things around for him, though, it might be the Minnesota Twins, who come to Tropicana Field for a three-game series beginning Friday.
Archer is 1-1 with a 7.84 ERA this season, having given up at least four runs in each of his four starts, the last a four-inning, eight-hit, seven-run effort. But for his career against Minnesota, he’s been dominant — 6-1 with a 1.84 ERA, his lowest for any opponent he’s faced more than twice.
Last year, Archer faced the Twins and lasted 7 2/3 innings, striking out 11 and holding Minnesota to two runs on five hits.
The Rays (5-13) have the small consolation of a series win against the Texas Rangers, taking two of three and getting a day off Thursday in the middle of their homestand.
The Twins (8-5), meanwhile, have had their share of days off, with three home games against the White Sox postponed this week before the team’s two-game series in Puerto Rico, which ended with a 16-inning win that spilled into Thursday morning.
Jose Berrios threw seven shutout innings, and seven Twins relievers pitched a combined nine innings, giving up one run on nine hits before Ryan LaMarre won the game with a walk-off single in the 16th.
Minnesota turns to right-hander Lance Lynn (0-1, 5.00), who is still working to get his first win with his new team after a solid run with the St. Louis Cardinals. He’s faced the Rays three times before, going 0-1 with a 3.77 ERA. Last year, he lasted seven innings against Tampa Bay, striking out eight and giving up two runs on six hits, very comparable to Archer’s outing against the Twins.
The Rays have pushed through key injuries, gone 2-7 in one-run games and seen their bullpen take seven losses in the young season. But two wins in three games is relatively positive momentum, and manager Kevin Cash wants another series win with the Twins in town.
“We have to own the fact that we’re whatever our record is right now,” Cash said after Wednesday’s win. “We also can be somewhat satisfied that we are playing hard. It just hasn’t gone our way.”
Minnesota has won early with pitching — its team ERA of 3.05 is fifth-best in baseball, and opponents are hitting .214 against them, the fourth-lowest average in the league. The Twins are not overpowering — their 121 strikeouts are second-fewest in the majors — but they’ve pushed through four postponements entering this series, which is indoors and safely away from snow and any other potential obstacles.
The Rays could get a boost at the plate if infielder Brad Miller is reinstated from the disabled list. They’re still without outfielder Kevin Kiermaier and third baseman Matt Duffy, getting by with a lineup that is patchwork in some places.
Tampa Bay has only one player hitting better than .270, with Mallex Smith at .373.