Tampa Bay Rays vs Minnesota Twins: Preview, Prediction & Odds -- Aug. 15, 2021

by Chuck Sommers

Game time: 2:10 p.m. ET
Venue: Target Field, Minneapolis, MN
Where to watch: Bally Sports Sun, Bally Sports North

Season-to-date
Rays: 71-45 (1st place, AL East)
Twins: 50-66 (4th place, AL Central)

Projected lineup


Rays:
Brandon Lowe (L) 2B
Wander Franco (S) SS
Nelson Cruz (R) DH
Austin Meadows (L) LF
Joey Wendle (L) 3B
Yandy Diaz (R) 1B
Brett Phillips (L) RF
Kevin Kiermaier (L) CF
Mike Zunino (R) C

Twins:
Jorge Polanco (S) 2B
Brent Rooker (R) LF
Josh Donaldson (R) 3B
Mitch Garver (R) DH
Rob Refsnyder (R) CF
Miguel Sano (R) 1B
Trevor Larnach (L) RF
Ryan Jeffers (R) C
Andrelton Simmons (R) SS

Odds at USA Sportsbooks

DraftKings: Rays -135, Twins +115

Recent form
Rays: Won seven of eight
Twins: 5-3 in last eight

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Rays - Twins preview


Friday was the first time the Tampa Bay Rays hosted the Minnesota Twins this season. It went about as well as you’d expect for the best team in the American League.

Tampa hit four home runs, including an inside-the-park dinger from Kevin Kiermaier, to give the Rays a 10-4 win over the struggling Twins at Target Field in the Friday game, the first of this three-game series.

The leaders of the American League East continue to drive in runs at a scorching rate and it’s why they have a five-game lead on the Boston Red Sox entering Saturday.

One of those four homers came off the bat of Nelson Cruz, the former Twins slugger who was acquired by Tampa earlier this season. The 40-year-old hit his 24th home run of the season.

Second baseman Brandon Lowe extended his hitting streak to six games by going 2-for-5 in the leadoff spot. He’s batting 11-for-25 with three home runs and 10 RBI, as the Rays are 5-1 in that stretch.

“We're putting up eight runs, nine runs, 10 runs, seven runs. Whatever it is, we're putting up a lot of runs,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “When you're doing that, it takes more than one guy. Nelson has been just awesome for us, but we have a lot of guys that are doing really special things at the plate, between Brandon, Randy [Arozarena], Austin [Meadows]. Just a bunch of guys that are really hitting balls hard, and a lot of them are leaving the ballpark.”

Luis Patino is expected to take the mound for the Rays; he’s 2-3 with a 4.64 ERA this season.

There hasn’t been many bright spots for the Twins as their bats were pretty quiet on Friday. After winning three of four against the Houston Astros last weekend, the Twins have needed to sustain that, but not with much success.

The only offense driver was a surprising 4-for-5 performance from outfielder Brent Rooker, who rose his batting average to .187 by way of that. He also hit a home run, so progress, or something like that.

“I think I'm very confident in myself and my ability to produce and play at this level, and I want to show that with the opportunities that I've had so far and that I'm going to be given going forward,” Rooker said. “So that's definitely a goal of mine, for sure.”

The Twins are playing for pride in the American League Central because no one is catching the Chicago White Sox. Hopefully they can find some success against the Rays, but it doesn’t seem likely.

Betting trends


One reason behind the Rays’ success has been performances on the road. Tampa Bay is 36-23 (+13.6) on the road this season. They’ve also handled business against the AL Central, going 12-5 (+5.4).

The Twins are 15-14 after batting .225 over a five-game span, but the over is 21-6 in that run.

Prediction


The American League playoffs go through Tampa Bay right now. We talk about the hot teams in baseball like Milwaukee and the Chicago White Sox, but this seems like another year that the Rays are flying under the radar. They’ve somehow developed a great pitching staff even after trading Blake Snell. It’s the offense that’s been a lively surprise, and it wouldn’t be shocking if the Rays strung together some extra-base hits and cruised to another victory. If the Twins can get to Patino, they may have a chance. Given how hot Tampa has been, that’s a very big if. Rays win, over cashes.

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Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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