The Twins won two of the three games in their series against the Tampa Bay Rays. Minnesota is now 11-11 and remains in 4th place in the division only 1 game behind the 1st place Kansas City Royals.
Matchup: Jeff Niemann vs. Scott Baker
Result: 7-1 Loss
Baker pitched better in his 3rd start going 6.0 innings. He allowed 6 hits, 4 runs, 1 walk and struck out 7. The bullpen was awful giving up 3 runs in 3.0 innings while the bats were silent against Niemann. They hit .161 as a team with no extra base hits outside of Crede’s HR. They went 0-9 with RISP and no one had a multi-hit game.
Matchup: James Shields vs. Francisco Liriano
Result: 4-3 Win
Francisco Liriano didn’t have his best stuff again, but his final pitching line was solid. Liriano went 6.2 IP allowing 7 H, 2 R, 2 BB and recorded 3 SO. The bullpen was a little better allowing 1 run in their 2.1 innings of work. They hit .290 with 6 walks in the game but again struggled with RISP going 1-8. Morneau hit his 5th HR of the season and Casilla added a 2B. Jose Morales was the only Twins player to have a multi-hit game going 2-4.
Matchup: Scott Kazmir vs. Nick Blackburn
Result: 8-3 Win
Blackburn went 7.0 IP and allowed 8 H, 2 R, 1 BB and struck out 3. The bullpen was again “okay” but the bats showed up in a big way in the series finale. They hit .343 with 4 walks, 2 doubles, and 1 triple. They also hit 3-9 with RISP. Span, Harris, and Morneau all had 3-hit games.
The starting rotation threw 19.2 innings with a 3.66 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 13 SO.
In 7.1 innings of work the bullpen posted a 6.14 ERA, 1.50 WHIP and 2 SO.
For the series, the Twins hit .268 (26/97) while drawing 14 walks and striking out 19 times. They left 25 men on base while scoring 13 runs. In the series they hit 3 2B, 1 3B and 2 HR. They hit a paltry .154 (4/26) with runners in scoring position.
The fact that they hit .154 with runners in scoring position and won two out of three is surprising. They walked a few more times than in the previous series and cut the strikeouts by two. The average dipped after hitting .294 against the Indians, but considering the Rays have a much better staff the drop to .268 is understandable.
Kansas City comes to Minnesota with a 12-10 record and in first place. On the season, the Royals have scored 97 runs and allowed 82. They trail only the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have allowed only 75, for fewest runs allowed in all of MLB. By comparison, the Twins have 93 RS and 116 RA. The big news for the Twins is the return of Joe Mauer who makes his season debut tonight. They have managed to play .500 baseball without him, so a long winning streak could be coming soon. The Royals have pitched well this season, but do not have Greinke going in the series. The Twins have the pitching advantage the first two games and have been the hotter of the 2 teams going 6-4 in their last 10 compared to Kansas City’s 5-5 record in their last 10.
4/30 Day Off
5/1 Sidney Ponson (0-3, 5.79) vs. Kevin Slowey (3-0, 4.44)
5/2 Brian Bannister (2-0, 0.69) vs. Glen Perkins (1-2, 2.48)
5/3 Gil Meche (1-2, 3.77) vs. Scott Baker (0-2, 9.82)