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Twins keep heads up amid tight Wild Card race

Special to MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Even after losing three in a row and four of their past five games entering Wednesday, the Twins weren't ready to start panicking.

Of those four losses, three of them were by one run. And Minnesota avoided a sweep with a 10-6 win over the Rays at Tropicana Field on Wednesday.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Even after losing three in a row and four of their past five games entering Wednesday, the Twins weren't ready to start panicking.

Of those four losses, three of them were by one run. And Minnesota avoided a sweep with a 10-6 win over the Rays at Tropicana Field on Wednesday.

Full Game Coverage

"We're fine. That's part of the game," Twins first baseman Joe Mauer said. "You're going to have ups and downs. I just keep reminding the guys to keep playing the way we've been playing, and more times than not, we are going to do pretty well."

The Twins hold the second American League Wild Card spot, half a game ahead of the Angels.

"Our guys believe that if they go out and keep doing what they are doing and try to win series ... we're not critical yet," Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said.

All right, all right, all right
Minnesota stacked the right-handed batter's box for the series finale against Tampa Bay. The Twins' lineup -- which featured six switch hitters -- went with an all-righty configuration to start the game.

Part of that was by design, with Rays left-hander Blake Snell on the mound. Backup catcher Chris Gimenez got the start in place of Jason Castro, and rookie Niko Goodrum started in right for Max Kepler. Part of it was giving Mauer and left fielder Eddie Rosario a day off. Mauer's day off was planned. Kennys Vargas started in his place at first base.

"It's an interesting lineup with no lefties in there," Molitor said. "We've been pushing Joe fairly hard, and I think we all believe that spreading out his playing time a little bit more this year has helped him stay strong and hopefully enable him to finish strongly."

The Twins have gone 20-20 as team when facing a southpaw. Kepler in particular has struggled against lefties, batting just .131 against them this season.

Irma alters lineup
Rosario was also given the day off because Molitor thought he might be distracted because of Hurricane Irma making landfall in Rosario's home in Puerto Rico.

"What's going on in Puerto Rico and the Dominican is affecting a lot of our people, and I know Rosie in particular has a lot of concerns with what is going on," Molitor said. "It's one of those things that you are totally empathetic to some of the things they are dealing with, so it kind of puts the baseball game in perspective."

Trio of PR stars keeping eye on Hurricane Irma

Sano inching back
Third baseman Miguel Sano tested his left shin injury by doing some light jogging on Wednesday. He is scheduled to take live batting practice on Thursday.

Sano, who did not make the trip to St. Petersburg with the team, has been on the 10-day DL since Aug. 21. The slugger was batting .267 with 28 home runs and 77 RBIs before the injury.

J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg who covered the Twins on Wednesday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Minnesota Twins