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What's new: The Twins (49-62) find themselves in a rare spot, near the bottom of the AL Central, a division they've won two of the past three years. A big reason why is the pitching, as Minnesota entered Thursday with the AL's highest ERA (4.77). The rotation is without RHP Carl Pavano (disabled list) and LHP Francisco Liriano (traded to White Sox in late July). On offense, the Twins still have their M&M boys, 1B Justin Morneau (15 homers, 55 RBIs) and C Joe Mauer (.316 average), but their biggest bat has been OF Josh Willingham, who has 29 of their 99 homers.
Key stat: The Twins have scored 145 runs since the All-Star break, which was the best in baseball entering Thursday.
Connections: Twins CF Denard Span is a Tampa Catholic High School product.
Series history: The Rays have won two of three meetings this year, and nine of their past 13 against the Twins. But the Twins lead overall 60-53, including 34-24 in Minnesota.
Joe Smith, Times staff writer