Pitcher Andrew Albers is hoping his third time with the Minnesota Twins is a charm.
Recently inserted into Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli’s starting rotation, Albers gets the nod for the Twins (58-76) against the Tampa Bay Rays (85-50) in Saturday’s sandwich game of the three-game series in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The Canadian-born left-hander has had a sporadic five-year career in the majors — despite posting an 8-6 record, 3.88 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and .269 opposing batting average at stops that included the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners.
In his third go-around in the Twin Cities — he was 2-5 with a 4.05 ERA in 10 starts as a Twins rookie in 2013 and pitched for them again in 2016 — Albers (1-0, 0.96) has turned in impressive numbers over two appearances so far.
After a four-inning relief appearance in the Bronx against the Yankees on Aug. 19 — a 7-5 win for then-streaking New York — the journeyman made his first start since Sept. 30, 2017.
In Minneapolis against the Milwaukee Brewers last Friday, he fashioned 5 1/3 innings of three-hit shutout ball over 88 pitches. He struck out two, walked one and hit a batter in getting the win.
It was Albers’ first victory for Minnesota since 2013.
Baldelli said he has been impressed with the 35-year-old’s perseverance to continue his career, which included a season in Korea in 2014.
“I’m sure there are many moments where he wasn’t sure what the future was going to hold or if he would be pitching much more,” said Baldelli. “The way he acts on a daily basis, the way he does his thing, nothing seems to really get in his way.”
In one career appearance against the Rays, Albers started and surrendered four runs on six hits in four innings, receiving the loss in a 7-0 Tampa Bay win on Sept. 14, 2013.
The Rays broke a two-game skid Friday behind a strong start from Michael Wacha, who allowed two runs in six innings with seven strikeouts — six on an extremely effective changeup — in the club’s 5-3 win over the American League Central club.
In Saturday’s matinee affair, right-hander Chris Archer (0-1, 4.35) will make his fifth 2021 appearance and fourth start overall in his second stint with the Rays.
Archer, 32, pitched four innings in his team’s 12-8 win Sunday over the Orioles in Baltimore.
He yielded two runs on four hits while striking out a season-high six with just one walk.
The Raleigh, N.C., native said he leaned on All-Star catcher Mike Zunino throughout the start.
“I hadn’t thrown to Zunino since spring training,” said Archer after his season-high 59-pitch outing. “With him back there, it’s always super comfortable. I told him before the game, ‘I’m going with what you put down unless it totally doesn’t feel right.’ I only shook like two times.”
He has been dominating against the Twins since his debut in 2012. In 10 career starts, Archer is 6-1 with a 2.40 ERA, with Minnesota hitters batting .217. The Twins have just three homers in 60 innings against him.
Shortstop Wander Franco didn’t play Friday after he left Thursday’s game with a headache, but Rays manager Kevin Cash said the rookie was “in a much better place” when he arrived at the park Friday and should be in the lineup over the weekend.
–Field Level Media