I am way too lazy to do any head-to-head comparisons of the two teams numbers-wise, but Lookout Landing has a pretty good table in their series preview. In short, the Twins are the better team in almost every way except fielding, where Seattle’s 11.9 team UZR is slightly better than our boys’ 11.0. The Twins should win at least two of these games. Of course, that doesn’t mean they will. Some of the Twins’ most heartbreaking losses in recent years have come against Seattle. Remember when Glen Perkins took that 6-1 lead in to the seventh? And then the Mariners scored 10 unanswered runs (Raul Ibanez drove in six of them all by himself; thank goodness he’s in the National League)? And it seems that no matter how poorly Junior might otherwise be hitting, he always seems to find his stroke against Twinkie pitching. However, this is a different Twins team, one that can actually win games on the road. Maybe they’ll finally steal a few in Safeco.
Here are the probable pitching matchups:
Monday, May 31:
Francisco Liriano: 3.41 ERA, 3.36 xFIP, 8.90 K/9, 2.0 WAR Liriano, no matter how poorly he’s otherwise been pitching, has shut down the Mariners: he’s got a 3.00 ERA in 42 innings against Seattle.
Doug Fister: 2.03 ERA, 4.27 xFIP, 3.77 K/9, 1.5 WAR Fister is sort of the Mariners’ Nick Blackburn: gives up plenty of hits, doesn’t miss many bats, but doesn’t issue many walks and relies heavily on his defense to make outs.
Tuesday, June 1:
Nick Blackburn: 4.28 ERA, 4.98 xFIP, 2.51 K/9, 0.3 WAR After getting off to a rough start, Blackburn has a 2.65 ERA and 4.72 xFIP since May 1st. He may have a rough go of things with Michael Cuddyer (yes, you read that right) in for Orlando Hudson, though.
Jason Vargas: 3.12 ERA, 4.78 xFIP, 5.93 K/9, 0.9 WAR Even with increased production from their right-handed hitters, lefties are still the Twins’ kryptonite. Even mediocre ones like Vargas.
Wednesday, June 2:
Kevin Slowey: 4.15 ERA, 4.55 xFIP, 6.87 K/9, 0.7 WAR If Kevin Slowey is going to build on his fantastic outing against the Rangers, this would be the game to do it. He’ll be facing one of the weakest offenses in the league in a notorious pitchers’ park.
Cliff Lee: 3.22 ERA, 2.83 xFIP, 8.46 K/9, 2.3 WAR Unfortunately, his opponent will be Cliff Lee. If the Twins can’t even hit middling lefties, the best southpaw in the AL might end up throwing the third perfect game of the season. Too bad Carlos Gomez isn’t around to get under his skin.
Thursday, June 3:
Carl “Luigi” Pavano: 3.99 ERA, 3.72 xFIP, 5.79 K/9, 1.2 WAR I know I’m in the minority, but I think Pavano’s ‘stache is bad-assed:
Felix Hernandez: 3.50 ERA, 3.72 xFIP, 8.13 K/9, 1.2 WAR Ho-hum: another year, another Cy-Young-worthy season for King Felix.