Royce Lewis’ sizzling return has Twins rolling into series with Rays

Royce Lewis is making up for lost time with the Minnesota Twins.

Lewis missed 58 games this season as he recovered from a severe right quadriceps injury sustained in the season opener. The third baseman returned June 4 and has shined at the plate ever since.

The talented 25-year-old will look to maintain his hot streak when the Twins open a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night in Minneapolis.

“I love where the swing’s at right now,” Lewis said. “It’s in a great spot.”

In 12 games this season, Lewis is hitting .390 (16-for-41) with seven homers and 11 RBIs. He has homered in each of his past two games, three of his past four games and four of his past six games.

Lewis also has helped teammate Carlos Correa find his own hot streak at the plate. Correa is hitting .511 (24-for-47) with four homers and 13 RBIs in his last 11 games, and he credits Lewis with providing protection behind him in the lineup.

“Absolutely. You know you’re getting a pitch to hit,” Correa said. “He’s a guy who will go deep at some point in the game, so (the opposing pitcher) doesn’t want to have people on base when he’s hitting. So, yeah, it’s great having that protection.”

The duo has helped Minnesota win five straight games and seven of its last eight. The Twins completed a four-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics this weekend and had a day off Monday.

Tampa also is coming off a day off Monday. The Rays lost their first two games against the Atlanta Braves in a weekend series, but they ended it with an 8-6 win.

Jose Siri will look to stay hot after hitting the go-ahead homer for Tampa on Sunday.

“(Siri) hung in there,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He got a pitch that he didn’t like called (on the) first pitch. Then he fouled a ball off his foot. He was in some considerable pain. He got some time to regroup.

“I’m proud of the way he hung in there against a good closer (Atlanta right-hander Raisel Iglesias).”

Rays right-hander Aaron Civale (2-5, 5.20 ERA) will take the mound in the series opener against Minnesota. Civale is seeking his first victory since April 9 against the Los Angeles Angels.

In his most recent start, Civale received a no-decision despite limiting the Chicago Cubs to one run on five hits in 5 2/3 innings. He walked one and struck out six.

The 29-year-old Civale has faced the Twins nine times in his career. He is 1-4 with a 3.78 ERA in those games.

Minnesota will counter with right-hander Pablo Lopez (6-6, 5.33). He is looking for back-to-back victories after holding the Colorado Rockies to two runs on five hits in five innings in his most recent start.

Lopez, 28, is 1-3 with a 3.25 ERA in six career starts against Tampa Bay.

This is the first series this season between the Twins and Rays. Last season, the teams met six times, with Tampa Bay posting a 5-1 record and outscoring Minnesota 27-14.

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