After two pleasantly surprising victories in the Motor City, the Minnesota Twins (12-26) try to continue their success against the Milwaukee Brewers (16-22). It’s the third series this week for the Twins, who have already swept one opponent and been swept by another.
Sunday is this series’ mismatch special. Greinke is a former Cy Young winner who sports a 2.88 ERA this year. Marquis is not. He owns an ERA nearly four full runs higher than Greinke (6.68), has given up five earned runs in each of his last two starts, and has yet to strike out more than three batters in a game this year. Also, the current Brewer roster is hitting .371/.420/.587 against him! On the plus side, Greinke is a free agent after this season, and with Marquis, Pavano, Francisco Liriano, and Scott Baker all departing as well, the Twins should have some money to spend on pitching (hey we can dream, right?).
Since the Brewers are in the wrong league, the Twins haven’t faced their pitchers too much, but both Justin Morneau (4 for 7) and Joe Mauer (5 for 9) have decent numbers against Gallardo. Estrada has three career appearances versus the Twins, including a start back in 2010. In that game he lasted just three innings and allowed two runs. Pavano has a lackluster 4.77 career ERA versus Milwaukee, but the only Brewer in the lineup who has hit him hard is Ryan Braun (.357/.357/1.000 in 14 PAs). Scott Diamond has never faced the Brewers.
The Head to Head:
The Twins are a respectable 522-513 against the Brewers since the latter team was founded as the Seattle Pilots in 1969. For the first 29 seasons of the rivalry, these were both American League squads, and they met an average of 12 times per year. The Brew Crew defected to the National League following the 1997 season, and since then these two have not played each other as often. But the Twins still hold a slender advantage, 38-32, in interleague play with Milwaukee.
Last year the Brewers got the best of it, winning four of six, including all three games in Milwaukee.
Beautiful baseball weather is on schedule for this weekend. Highs will near 80 degrees each of the three days, which means the two day games should be pleasantly warm. No chance of rain until Sunday, and even then it is a minimal chance.
The Twins’ dreary season got a little less dreary as they ambushed the Tigers with a two game sweep. First baseman Morneau returned from a wrist injury and hit a homer in his second game back, which more than made up for the bad injury news that hit Nick Blackburn (quadricep). Ryan Doumit is also slowed by a calf strain, but in a weird move the Twins decided to send Blackburn to the DL instead of Doumit. That injury means that we will probably see a fair amount of Drew Butera this weekend.
Minnesota has a history of surging in interleague play. A 16-2 interleague run in 2006 propelled the Twins on a surge that eventually took them atop the AL Central. Last year they finished 8-10 in interleague games, but series victories against the Brewers, Dodgers, and Padres highlighted a surprising month of June.
The Brewers absorbed a severe blow this offseason when Prince Fielder bolted to Detroit, and this team is nowhere near as menacing as they were during last year’s playoff run. Still, it’s hard to dismiss a pitching staff led by Gallardo and Greinke, especially when they have Braun for run support.
After being swept in two games by their division-rival Astros, the Brewers sit in fifth place in the NL Central. This is yet another opportunity for the Twins to earn a few wins at the hands of a stumbling team. Unfortunately, Minnesota has almost always squandered those opportunities.
The Bottom Line:
The Brewers will probably win this series. Look for the two teams to split the first two games. Don’t bother watching on Sunday, unless you hate happiness.