video thumbnail

TOR@TB: Shields hurls eight frames of one-run ball

With Evan Longoria back in the Tampa Bay lineup, the Rays offense has been sizzling, but he may not be the hitter Twins pitchers have to worry about.

B.J. Upton and Matt Joyce hit a pair of homers apiece in the opening two games of the weekend series as the Rays attempt to sweep the Twins at Target Field on Sunday.

With Saturday night's win, Tampa Bay already clinched its fifth series win in the last six, but another win Sunday would be the second straight sweep for the club.

Minnesota is hoping left-hander Scott Diamond can cool down the hot bats of Tampa Bay. Diamond has gone seven or more innings in each of his last three starts, the most recent being a win over Cleveland.

In that outing, Diamond allowed three runs -- two earned -- in seven innings on seven hits and a walk with three strikeouts.

Diamond wouldn't mind seeing some offensive support, either. The Twins have actually hit the ball well at Target Field, leading the Majors with a .289 batting average at home, despite being 11 games below .500 there.

"I don't care if it would have been in a parking lot, we wouldn't have won games," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said about struggling to win games at home. "When we get starting pitching, I think we play fine at home. We had a lot of one-run games on the last homestand, where we were one hit away. So, yes, I don't think it's we've played bad at home, I just think we haven't won enough ballgames."

Right-hander James Shields will take the mound opposite Diamond after tossing eight innings of one-run baseball on two hits and a walk with six strikeouts in his last start.

Shields is looking for his third straight win and 11th on the season after winning just three in June and July.

Rays: Scott's rehab assignment delayed
• He didn't suffer an injury, but Luke Scott had a setback for Class A Charlotte this weekend, just as he was beginning a rehab assignment.

Storms forced Friday's game to be canceled and rain poured again Saturday, causing the first game of a scheduled doubleheader to be postponed.

Scott eventually got some at-bats for the Stone Crabs, but struggled mightily, striking out three times.

An oblique strain sidelined Scott on July 21, but Tampa Bay has done well in his absence, going 11-7 since the injury.

Twins: Baker progressing well after surgery
• Tommy John surgery in April ruled out Scott Baker for the entire 2012 season, but the righty said he's recovering well.

Baker plans to throw every other day after throwing for the first time since the surgery on Wednesday.

"I feel like this is the long part," Baker said. "You get back to being able to throw and that ligament has to properly stretch out. I think people in the past have tried to speed up the process, but it doesn't work. Nine months is as fast as it's going to go."

Baker's presence in the rotation has been sorely missed, as Twins starters have combined for a 5.49 ERA this season, the second-worst mark in the Majors.

Last season, Baker went 8-6 in 21 starts with a 3.14 ERA and 123 stikeouts.

Worth noting
• Rays utility man Ben Zobrist made his third straight start at shortstop on Saturday. Prior to the recent string of games, Zobrist last played short in 2009.

• Twins outfielder Denard Span was given Saturday off against lefty David Price. He's expected to be available Sunday.

MLB.com Comments