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Major League Baseball
Preview
Minnesota at Tampa Bay
When: 1:10 PM ET, Thursday, April 24, 2014
Where: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida

Chris Colabello leads the way for a much-improved Minnesota Twins’ offense, which stands fourth in the majors with 107 runs in 20 games. Colabello looks to add to his American League-leading 26 RBIs as the Twins visit the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday afternoon in the rubber match of a three-game series. Cleanup-hitter Colabello is batting .346 after knocking in four Wednesday in a 6-4 victory in 12 innings for Minnesota, which finished 25th in the majors in runs scored a year ago.

The Rays could not manage a run the last six innings Wednesday as they continue to struggle finding consistency with the bats. James Loney and Matt Joyce lead Tampa Bay with 12 RBIs apiece and Evan Longoria is one of three players with 11 while batting .316. Minnesota is 10th in the AL in batting average (.248) and the Rays 12th (.244), but the Twins have registered 21 more runs in one less game.

TV: 1:10 p.m. ET, FSN North (Minnesota), Sun Sports (Tampa Bay)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Twins RH Ricky Nolasco (1-2, 6.08 ERA) vs. Rays LH Erik Bedard (0-0, 6.35)

Nolasco surrendered five runs in three of his first four starts with the Twins, giving up 33 hits (four homers) in 23 2/3 innings overall. The California native was 8-3 after being traded from Miami to the Los Angeles Dodgers last year before signing as a free agent with Minnesota. Yunel Escobar is 10-for-29 with a homer against Nolasco, who is 2-5 with a 7.05 ERA versus Tampa Bay in seven starts.

With three in Tampa Bay’s five-man rotation out due to injuries, Bedard gets his second start after allowing four runs on six hits over 3 2/3 innings against the New York Yankees on Friday. The 35-year-old Canadian was 4-12 in 32 appearances (26 starts) with Houston in 2013. Bedard is 3-5 in 15 outings (14 starts) versus the Twins with a 4.04 ERA and Joe Mauer is 6-for-22 with two walks against him.

WALK-OFFS

1. Tampa Bay is the only team in the majors to record at least one double in every game (21) this season.

2. Minnesota OF Sam Fuld, who spent the last three seasons with the Rays, had two hits in his debut with the Twins on Tuesday.

3. Tampa Bay CF Desmond Jennings is 5-for-10 in the series after missing the previous two games with a groin injury.

PREDICTION: Rays 6, Twins 4
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away East Central West IL
Minnesota 10-10 W1 5-4 5-6 3-2 7-5 0-3 0-0
Tampa Bay 10-11 L1 7-6 3-5 4-6 2-3 2-1 2-1
Last Meeting
Minnesota Tampa Bay
Date Away Home Avg HR OPS Avg HR OPS
4/23/14 MIN 6 x TB 4 .267 1 .746 .214 0 .538
Player Stats
Season Series
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Minnesota C. Colabello .300 3 1.200
Tampa Bay D. Jennings .500 5 1.045
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Minnesota C. Colabello 2 2 6
Tampa Bay D. Jennings 0 3 0
Pitching ERA Avg K
Minnesota 4.50 .234 10
Tampa Bay 3.86 .282 26
Season
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Minnesota C. Colabello .346 27 .962
Tampa Bay M. Joyce .346 18 1.016
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Minnesota B. Dozier 6 20 8
Tampa Bay B. Zobrist 3 16 7
Pitching ERA Avg K
Minnesota 4.86 .248 121
Tampa Bay 3.79 .244 162