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Rays vs Twins Preview: Let’s play three in Minny

The Rays kick off a weekend series at beautiful Target Field in downtown Minneapolis

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Minnesota Twins Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay is 19-7 at Target Field with a run differential of 135-66 since it opened in 2010.

If that doesn’t give you hope for the series, I don’t know what to tell you.

The Rays (25-25) are coming off a series spit with the Los Angeles Angels and will look to build on back-to-back wins over the Angels to finish their series. The pair of victories improved the Rays to 25-25 on the season, five games behind the first place Yankees in the division.

The Twins (25-18), who are off to their best start since 2010, sit atop the AL Central standings and will be looking to build on their current 4-game winning streak. They are coming off of a three-game sweep over the Orioles in Baltimore, including a 4-3 win in their series finale on Wednesday.

Tonight’s game will be televised on Fox Sports Sun. First pitch is slated for 8:10 PM ET.

Starting Pitchers

Chris Archer

The Rays ace has been a strikeout machine as of late, striking out at least 11 batters in three of his past four starts. The right-hander has struck out 77 batters in 64 23 innings this season, good for third most in the MLB behind Chris Sale (101, geez!) and Zack Greinke (78).

Archer (3-3) racked up a season-high 12 strikeouts, but ended up suffering his third loss of 2017 on Sunday against New York, allowing three earned runs over 6 1/3 innings Sunday. Death to wins.

The 28-year-old right-hander stands 3-3 on the year with a 3.76 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 77/24 K/BB ratio in 64 2/3 innings. Archer has excelled vs. RHB’s, holding hitters to the tune of .196/.263/.294 from the right side of the plate. He’s struggled more against lefties, posting a .270/.354/.460 slash-line from the left side of the plate.

In six career starts against the Twins, Archer is 5-1 with a 1.73 ERA. In three career starts at Target Field, Archer is 3-0 with a 0.98 ERA.

Hector Santiago

The left-hander is coming off a no-decision against the Royals, allowing three earned runs over five innings.

As Bill Chaistain notes in his preview:

After posting a 2.43 ERA in five April starts, Santiago has a 6.20 ERA in four May outings. He only allowed two homers in April, but he has served up five this month. Tampa Bay's offense leans heavy on power, with Logan Morrison and Corey Dickerson among the league leaders in homers.

In four career appearances (two starts) against the Rays, Santiago is 1-0 with a 4.86 ERA.

The southpaw has posted reverse splits so far in 2017. He’s fared extremely well vs. RHB’s this season (.210/.275/.293), and poorly vs. LHB’s (.500/.606/.885).

In 2017, Santiago has relied primarily on his fourseam fastball (92mph) and changeup (83mph), while also mixing in a curveball (77mph). He also rarely throws a Cutter (87mph), Slider (84mph) and Sinker (90mph).

Starting Lineups

Again, the Rays offense loves to hit in Minnesota

Today's Lineups

Tim Beckham - SS Brian Dozier - 2B
Corey Dickerson - LF Joe Mauer - 1B
Evan Longoria - 3B Miguel Sano - 3B
Logan Morrison - 1B Max Kepler - RF
Steven Souza - RF Kennys Vargas - DH
Kevin Kiermaier - CF Jorge Polanco - SS
Rickie Weeks - DH Eddie Rosario - LF
Derek Norris - C Byron Buxton - CF
Daniel Robertson - 2B Jason Castro - C
Chris Archer - RHP Hector Santiago - LHP