Rays go on the road in hopes of a playoff push

Joe Maddon's Rays have beatten the Twins 10 straight times,
Joe Maddon’s Rays have beaten the Twins 10 straight times,

The Rays got a much needed win last night beating Boston 4-3. They came into the game losing  five of six and 13 of 17 before beating the Red Sox on Thursday. Desmond Jennings homered and Wil Myers went 2 for 3 with two RBIs, including a tie-breaking double in the eighth inning.

Myers told Sun Sports after the game:

“We needed it bad … we needed to win bad,” said Myers, who is 12 for his last 31. “With the wild-card getting tight, we needed a win here.”

The Rays remain in control of their own playoff destiny and if they can string some wins together they can even catch the Texas Rangers, who they trail by two games, to clinch the top spot in the AL Wild Card race.

As we enter this weekend the race for the AL Wild Card Playoff spots look more like the final laps of a NASCAR race than a baseball battle. The Rays are holding on to the final playoff spot by one game ahead of the New York Yankees, one and a half games ahead of the Cleveland Indians and two and a half games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles and the Kansas City Royals.

Tonight the Rays begin an odd three game road trip to what will be a chilly Target Field to face the Twins. Which could be very good news if history plays true to form this weekend.

The Rays come to town to play a Twins team that Tampa Bay has beaten 10 straight times.

The Rays have taken 20 of 26 from Minnesota (63-82), including nine straight by a 52-25 margin. Ben Zobrist is hitting .354 with four homers and 19 RBIs over a 17-game stretch against the Twins, and Evan Longoria has seven homers and 34 RBIs in 33 games.

The Rays  will send  Chris Archer (8-7, 3.19 ERA), to the mound tonight as he tries to avoid losing a career-worst third consecutive start. After yielding a season high-tying five runs in just, 3 2-3 innings in an 11-2 road loss to the Los Angeles Angels on September 2nd, Archer was dinged for three runs in four innings Saturday in a 6-2 defeat at Seattle.

The 24-year-old right-hander could benefit from facing Minnesota, which has managed 27 runs during a 2-6 stretch. Archer allowed one unearned run and three hits in six innings to beat the Twins in his only matchup in the series, 4-1 on July 9.

Loser in 12 of 14 at home, Minnesota is coming off an 8-2 defeat Thursday to Oakland. Oswaldo Arcia stayed hot with two hits, including his second homer in three days.

Tonight the Twins will send Kevin Correia (9-11, 4.30) in hopes of bouncing back. The right-hander had gone 2-2 with a 1.80 ERA over his previous five starts before allowing five runs in six innings Saturday in an 11-2 loss to Toronto.

Correia surrendered three runs and a season-high five walks in 5 1-3 innings in a 4-3, 13-inning loss at Tampa Bay on July 10. Kelly Johnson, who hit a two-run shot off him in that game, is 9 for 25 with five homers in their matchups. Johnson, however needs to get out of his batting funk, he is just 3-for-25 in his last 10 games.

Saturday it will be a battle of left handers as the Rays, Matt Moore, ( 15-3, 3.18 ERA), will go against the Twins Andrew Albers, ( 2-2, 3.35 ERA). Last time out facing Seattle on Sunday, Moore had a quality start, he was not around as the Rays won 4-1.

The Rays close out their brief three game road trip on Sunday with David Price, (8-8, 3.45 ERA),  going to the hill to face the Twins rookie, Pedro Hernandez, (3-1, 5.25 ERA), before returning home for their final homestand of the season.

Sports Talk Florida, Insider columnist James Williams, is a seven time Emmy Award winning producer, director and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Wordmandc or join his circle at Google +