La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Twins: Rays poised for a sweep with Shields on the mound

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: August 12, 2012 - 12:06 PM

The Twins have been swept eight times this season - six at home.

They hope to avoid another sweep on Sunday as they face Rays righthander James Shields, who is 10-7 with a 4.08 ERA.

In Shields' last two starts, he's given up one earned run on five hits with 17 strikeouts and one walk in 17 innings. Shields is excellent at changing speeds, so the Twins will have to avoid being too aggressive against him.

Will check back later with updates.

PLOUFFE UPDATE

Trevor Plouffe, in his first rehab game at Class AAA Rochester, went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and left seven runners on base. But Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said that Plouffe probably will join the club in time for tomorrow's series opener against Detroit.

"He'll play today and he will be back tomorrow, if everything goes good," Gardenhire said.

If that happens, then this could be Tsuyoshi Nishioka's last day with the Twins. Someone will have to go to make room for Plouffe, and Nishi has not played since three horrid games in Cleveland. And he's not in the lineup today.

Despite not getting a hit on Saturday, Plouffe was sharp at third base. Read about it here.

RELIEVERS IMPRESS

Gardenhire spoke highly of righthander Casey Fein and lefthander Tyler Robertson, who pitched well last night. Gardenhire said Robertson is learning that he has to show his fastball to left-handed hitters instead of throwing slider after slider.

"I think we want him in some situations where he can face some righties too," he said. "Not to get so locked in on lefty, lefty, lefty and he'll use his fastball then. That will help him."

Rays (61-52)

1. Desmond Jennings, LF
2. B.J. Upton, CF
3. Ben Zobrist, RF
4. Evan Longoria, DH
5. Jeff Keppinger, 3B
6. Carlos Pena, 1B
7. Ryan Roberts, 2B
8. Sean Rodriguez, SS
9. Jose Lobaton, C
 

 Pitching: RHP James Shields

Twins (49-64)

1. Denard Span, CF
2. Ben Revere, RF
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Josh Willingham, DH 
5. Justin Morneau, 1B 
6. Ryan Doumit, LF
7. Alexi Casilla, 2B 
8. Brian Dozier, SS 
9. Jamey Carroll,3B

Pitching: LHP Scott Diamond

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