Matt Moore takes aim at win No. 16 on Saturday when the Tampa Bay Rays continue their playoff push in the middle test of a three-game set with the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
Moore has won his last seven decisions, but didn't earn one on Sunday in Seattle, despite a solid showing that saw him allow just a run and five hits in 6 1/3 innings of his team's 4-1 win. He is 15-3 on the year with a 3.18 ERA.
The 24-year-old lefty has faced the Twins twice and is 1-0 against them with a 3.95 ERA.
Minnesota will counter with a southpaw of its own in 28-year-old Andrew Albers, who is 2-2 with a 3.35 ERA, but is winless in his last five starts. Albers pitched well enough to win against Toronto on Sunday, as he scattered four hits over seven scoreless innings. However, he did not factor in the decision of his team's 2-0 setback.
"It felt good, but it obviously would've felt better if we would've won," said Albers. "That's the most important thing. Unfortunately, we just couldn't get the big hits today when we needed to, and that's how it goes sometimes."
Tampa strengthened its postseason hopes on Friday, as Chris Archer combined with three relievers on a five-hit shutout in the Rays' 3-0 triumph.
Archer (9-7), coming off consecutive rough outings, struck out seven and scattered three hits over six stellar frames before Jake McGee and Joel Peralta each pitched a scoreless inning in relief.
"I've had games where it's been decent, but tonight it was the best it's been in my career," Archer said of his changeup. "I think tonight the difference was me having something a little slower to show them instead of hard fastball, hard slider."
Fernando Rodney retired the Twins in order in the ninth to secure his 35th save of the season.
Yunel Escobar finished 3-for-4 with two doubles, an RBI and a run scored for the Rays, who have won back-to-back games and hold a 1 1/2-game lead over the Cleveland Indians for the final AL wild card spot.
Trevor Plouffe collected two of Minnesota's five hits, while starter Kevin Correia (9-12) was charged for all three runs on eight hits over six-plus innings for the Twins, who have lost three straight games.
"Correia did a really nice job, but their guy was better," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Their guy didn't give us many opportunities, and the ones we did have, we had called third strikes and too many punchouts for our baseball team."
Minnesota has lost all five games it has played with the Rays this season. In fact, Tampa is 22-7 in the series since the start of the 2010 campaign.