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Updated: April 15th, 2011 8:51pm
Twins Daily: Offensive power outage continues in 5-2 loss to Rays

Twins Daily: Offensive power outage continues in 5-2 loss to Rays

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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Nick Blackburn fell apart in the middle innings, but it likely didn't matter, as the Minnesota Twins offense -- not shockingly -- managed barely a pulse in a 5-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night.

The skinny

The Twins offense once again fired blanks on Friday night, scoring only one run and tallying only four hits against Rays right-hander Wade Davis.

Danny Valencia's fifth-inning RBI double temporarily put the Twins up 1-0, but it wasn't enough.

Trailing 5-1 in the ninth, the Twins showed some fight, drawing two walks and scoring on a fielder's choice, but Kyle Farnsworth struck out Michael Cuddyer to end it.

Turning point

Blackburn coasted through the first five innings, possibly even more so than he had in his first two impressive starts.

But three consecutive one-out hits by Reid Brignac, Sam Fuld and Johnny Damon put the Rays up 2-1, and a B.J. Upton RBI double made it 3-1.

Blackburn then came out and faced two batters to begin the seventh -- Dan Johnson, who singled sharply to center, and Kelly Shoppach, who hit a mammoth home run deep into the left-field seats, giving Tampa Bay a 5-1 advantage.

Numbers game

42: The jersey number of every player on the field, acknowledging Jackie Robinson Day.

0: The number of times, in 13 games, that the Twins have scored more than five runs in a single contest. The Twins scored six runs or more four times in the first 13 games last year, including reaching double digits twice.

6: Strikeouts for Blackburn. Unfortunately, he also gave up 10 hits and five earned runs in six-plus innings.

29: Teams that have hit more home runs than the Twins so far this season. In other words, the Twins have the fewest home runs (3) of any team in baseball.

Health watch

• After being placed on the 15-day disabled list with bilateral leg weakness, catcher Joe Mauer spent most of Thursday night in the hospital with a viral infection. The team believes Mauer's viral infection contributed heavily to the soreness and weakness he had been experiencing.

On deck

The series continues Saturday (3:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN) with right-hander Scott Baker (0-2, 6.55 ERA) facing right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (1-1, 4.09).

Baker is off to a sluggish start this season, but he was magnificent in two outings against the Rays last season -- 15 innings, 1 earned runs, 9 hits, 15 strikeouts and one walk.

Hellickson, a fourth-round draft pick in 2005, has emerged as one of the best young pitching prospects in baseball, ranking sixth overall on Baseball America's 2011 preseason list. He struck out 10 batters in 5 2/3 innings against the Angels in his first start of the season, allowing three earned runs, but he walked five in 5 1/3 while striking out only one in his second start against the Red Sox.

Coming up

• Sunday: at Tampa Bay, 12:40 p.m. LHP Brian Duensing (0-0, 4.15) vs. LHP David Price (1-2, 3.92).
• Monday: at Baltimore, 6:05 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano (0-3, 9.42) vs. RHP Chris Tillman (0-1, 7.30).
• Tuesday: at Baltimore, 6:05 p.m. RHP Carl Pavano (1-1, 3.60) vs. RHP Jake Arrieta (1-1, 7.04).

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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