ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays had not scored 11 runs in a home game in more than two months, but their offensive outburst Monday offered optimism.
The Rays continue a pivotal three-game series on Tuesday against a Minnesota Twins team they are chasing in the American League wild-card hunt.
“Hopefully they carry over to tomorrow,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said of his team’s 13 hits during an 11-4 win. “I think the guys understand what is at stake with the series, especially who we are playing with a team above us, and we have to play good baseball.”
The Rays (69-70) combined late offense with early pitching from Alex Cobb, who held in check a Twins lineup that had scored 27 runs in its previous three games.
The Twins (71-66) have a half-dozen teams chasing them for the final AL wild card, including the Rays, who are three games back. However, Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said he isn’t concerned about his team’s long-term focus.
“We’ll try to bounce back. I’m not worried about these guys coming out and (not) having a lot of fight in them,” he said. “You try to keep it in perspective but understand that every time you can post a win, it’s giving you a better chance to accomplish your goals. I think we’ll be ready to play.”
A win Tuesday would get the Rays back to .500 on the season, and they will rely on a .500 pitcher.
Tampa Bay right-hander Jake Odorizzi (7-7, 4.85 ERA) gets the start. He snapped a five-start winless streak on Wednesday at Kansas City, lasting only five innings but limiting the Royals to three runs on four hits in 5-3 victory.
For his career, Odorizzi is 0-1 with a 4.71 ERA in four starts against the Twins. On May 27, he gave up two runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings against Minnesota but took a no-decision.
Minnesota counters with 44-year-old Bartolo Colon, who is 6-10 with a 6.25 ERA. Last time out, he gave up 10 hits but held the White Sox to three runs in six innings in a no-decision during a 5-4 Twins win. In his past six starts, Colon is 4-1 with a 3.40 ERA.
He has a 9-6 career record and a 4.07 ERA in 24 career starts against Tampa Bay, but he hasn’t faced the Rays this season.
Three Tampa Bay players — Corey Dickerson, Kevin Kiermaier and Logan Morrison — had three hits each in the Monday game, and that kind of hitting up and down the lineup is what put the Rays in wild-card contention in the first half of the season.
“It makes you so much more dangerous when everyone is swinging the bat,” Kiermaier said Monday. “You can do so much more damage. Obviously it’d be great to have 14 hits a game. It’s not going to happen for any team in baseball. Games like tonight show how dangerous we can be when all guys are clicking on all cylinders.”
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