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Twins, Rays seek improved offense in series finale

Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash offered a short and simple description of his team’s latest contest against the Minnesota Twins.

“It was an odd game,” Cash said.

Now, the Rays will try to keep the Twins from getting even.

Tampa Bay will go for a series win when it plays the Twins in the decisive game of a three-game set Thursday afternoon in Minneapolis. The Twins won the series opener 7-6 on Tuesday before the Rays bounced back for a 3-2 victory in 10 innings on Wednesday.

A throwing error by Twins third baseman Royce Lewis opened the door for the Rays to score what proved to be the winning run.

Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said it was not fair to pin the loss on Lewis. He cited a lack of timely hitting as a reason the game could be decided by a defensive miscue.

Baldelli also said that he was fully focused on Thursday’s series finale instead of letting his thoughts linger on what could have gone differently on Wednesday.

“In this game, sometimes you make an error,” Baldelli said. “We end up talking about it because it was a 2-2 game, so it ended up factoring in. But we’ll get back to work (Thursday) and move on from it.”

Baldelli hopes to see a better performance from the Twins at the plate.

“We were right there in the game,” he said. “We didn’t put it together offensively the way we have a few other times this week. We had some good swings. We kind of scattered them around … but we just didn’t do enough offensively.”

The Rays also are hoping for more offense before they leave Minnesota.

“We’ve got to find ways to score some more runs,” Cash said. “There’s no doubt. Leaving (12) guys on — we’re a better offense than that. I’m happy that we won the game (on Wednesday), but the guys know we’ve got to score.”

Rays right-hander Zack Littell (2-5, 4.24 ERA) will get the start in the series finale as he tries to bounce back from his toughest outing of the season. He gave up seven runs (six earned) on eight hits in two innings against the Atlanta Braves on Friday.

Littell is 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA in three career games (one start) against the Twins. In those contests, he struck out nine and issued no walks in nine innings.

The Twins will counter with Simeon Woods Richardson (2-1, 3.29). The 23-year-old right-hander is looking for his first victory since May 28.

In his most recent outing, Woods Richardson allowed four runs on four hits in four innings against the Oakland Athletics on Friday. He walked four and struck out four.

This will be Woods Richardson’s first career appearance against the Rays.

Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena will look to stay hot at the plate after going 2-for-3 with a walk and a run on Wednesday. It has been a frustrating season for Arozarena, who is batting .185, but he has a five-game hitting streak.

–Field Level Media

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