While out of contention themselves, the Twins are facing a handful of teams in the hunt for a postseason spot in the final month of the regular season.
Minnesota, just having finished up a three-game set against the American League West-leading A's, now switches its attention to the Rays, who hope to put themselves in a strong position in the AL Wild Card race as they head to Target Field for three games starting Friday.
The Rays sit two games behind the Rangers for the first AL Wild Card spot and have a one-game lead over the Yankees for slot No. 2. After pulling out a win over the Red Sox on Thursday night, Tampa Bay sends right-hander Chris Archer to the bump on Friday.
The 24-year-old made his 19th start last Saturday night and lasted just four innings en route to his seventh loss. Archer registered his only clean inning in the fourth and did not return for the fifth, which was unexpected for the young pitcher.
He now has thrown a career-high 160 innings, although only 7 2/3 frames between his past two outings.
"You have to remember, this is a young man who is pitching deeper into the year than he has ever pitched and in more meaningful moments," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I want to watch him. That's all. He could be in tune the entire game and go seven or eight, but I just have to be mindful of a bunch of things. It's a different moment for him."
In one career appearance against the Twins, Archer tossed six shutout frames.
The Twins will start right-hander Kevin Correia on an extra day of rest, as they went to a six-man rotation with Scott Diamond beginning with Thursday's series finale against the A's.
Correia, who had a 1.80 ERA over his previous five outings, was hit hard in the first inning in his last start, giving up five runs on five hits and a walk against the Blue Jays on Saturday. Correia settled down after that rocky frame, as he ended up going six innings and didn't give up a run the rest of the way.
"They jumped on pitches early," Correia said. "It was pretty quick. Usually, I can make adjustments, but they just caught me. There were a handful of guys I hadn't faced, and so it was kind of a guessing game early. They jumped on a few pitches and took advantage in the first."
Twins: Gardy planning to keep Pelfrey in rotation
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Mike Pelfrey will remain in the rotation despite his recent struggles.
The Twins have been monitoring Pelfrey's workload down the stretch, as he's coming off Tommy John surgery. The right-hander has thrown 142 1/3 innings in 27 starts after throwing just 19 2/3 last year with the Mets before undergoing surgery on May 1, 2012.
Pelfrey was solid in August with a 3.60 ERA in six starts, but he has posted a 12.00 ERA in two September starts, including giving up seven runs on eight hits over just three-plus innings in Wednesday's 18-3 loss to the A's.
Rays: A lesson for Hernandez, Maddon
Roberto Hernandez's first two relief appearances this season, his first since 2006, went well. But Wednesday was a different story, as Hernandez entered with two runners on base in the 10th inning, walked Boston's Mike Napoli and then served up a game-winning grand slam to pinch-hitter Mike Carp.
Maddon said Thursday that he probably should have used Hernandez to start the inning, instead of Joel Peralta. Hernandez is not used to coming in with people on base, Maddon said, making it "a bad spot."
"It was a tough situation, but I don't think about that," Hernandez said. "I think about making a good pitch for a ground-ball double play. I can't control that. I don't think about it being tied. I just wanted to make a good pitch."
• Minnesota fell in the final two games of its series against the A's, getting outscored 26-5.
• Entering play Friday, the Twins have 32 homers from their rookies, marking the highest total by Minnesota rookies since 1999, when they hit 42. Oswaldo Arcia leads the group with 12.
• Since July 31, the Rays are 14-23, have averaged just above three runs per game (fewest in the Majors), hit 30 home runs and batted .218 (71-for-326) with runners in scoring position. Prior to that date, Tampa Bay was an AL-best 64-43, ranked sixth in the AL in runs scored (4.65), eighth in home runs (119) and were hitting .283 with RISP.
Jeff Kirshman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.