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Preview: Twins at Rays

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The top of the Tampa Bay Rays’ starting rotation is back on track and Roberto Hernandez would like to join the party. Hernandez looks to snap a four-start losing streak when the Rays open a four-game series with the visiting Minnesota Twins on Monday. The Rays. winners of four straight and eight of their last nine games, have received consecutive outstanding starts from Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore and David Price in which they allowed two runs over 22 1/3 innings.

Minnesota has lost seven of its last eight -- allowing 53 runs combined -- to drop 10 games back in the American League Central. All-Star Joe Mauer arrives with a six-game hitting streak and a .312 batting average while Brian Dozier is 12-for-37 with eight RBIs in the last 10 contests for the Twins. Tampa Bay lost the first meeting with Minnesota last year before winning the last five.

TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, Fox Sports North (Minnesota), SunSports (Tampa Bay)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Twins RH Samuel Deduno (4-3, 3.47 ERA) vs. Rays RH Roberto Hernandez (4-10, 4.95)

Deduno has pitched quite well after his first start of the season, going at least six innings and allowing three or fewer runs in six of his last seven outings. The 30-year-old, making his first career appearance against the Rays, has yielded 46 hits over 49 1/3 innings. Right-handed hitters are batting .297 against Deduno, much better than left-handed swingers (.200).

Hernandez has been a better pitcher at home, winning three of seven decisions with a 4.20 ERA. The veteran right-hander has received only six runs of support the last four outings, but he has surrendered five of his 16 homers in that span. Mauer is 12-for-28 against Hernandez, who is 5-9 with a 5.05 ERA in 21 appearances (17 starts) versus Minnesota.

WALK-OFFS

1. Rays CF Desmond Jennings is 12-for-29 with five walks, nine runs scored and six RBIs in the last seven games since moving back to the leadoff spot.

2. Minnesota LHP Caleb Thielbar has not allowed a run through his first 17 major-league appearances, a club record to start a career.

3. Tampa Bay’s bullpen had a major league-worst 4.96 ERA through the first 49 games and has recorded a 2.47 mark over the last 40.

PREDICTION: Twins 5, Rays 4

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130708/preview-twins-at-rays