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Back in contention, Twins open a big series against Rays

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Just when it looked like the Minnesota Twins were about to drop out of contention for an American League playoff spot, they went to Baltimore and swept the Orioles- and put themselves right back in the thick of the race.

If the season ended today, the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers would be the wild card teams in the American League, but the Twins aren't far out of it.

At 63-61, with an off day Monday, the Twins find themselves even with the Angels just one and a half games behind the Texas Rangers for the second wild card spot in the A.L. Baltimore and Tampa Bay are also right on their heels.

The Twins' turnaround also was reflected by ESPN's Major League Baseball power rankings, which moved the Twins up one spot to 16th. Despite the sweep of the Orioles in Baltimore though, ESPN still has Baltimore, Los Angeles, Texas and even the Rays ranked ahead of Minnesota.

The series against the Rays, which opens in Tampa Bay on Tuesday, could go a long way towards determining that wild card spot. The Twins took two of three from the Rays when they met at Target Field in May, and would like to do that again to try to catch the Rangers.

The pitching matchups could be interesting.

Ervin Santana (2-4) will face Nathan Karns (7-5) in Tuesday's series opener. Game two will put Twins rookie Tyler Duffey up against Chris Archer, and lefties Tommy Milone and Drew Smyly will will square off in the series finale Thursday.

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