When the Twins came to Seattle for four games in May, they ended up with three wins and outscored the hometown Mariners 40-18. Since they left they've kept on winning, going 13-5 while outscoring their opponents 120-82 and taking a 10½ game lead in the AL Central standings. The M's have their work cut out for them for these three games in Minneapolis.
Minnesota is first on the league in most offensive categories, leading in batting average, slugging, hits, runs, and doubles; they're second in OBP and home runs. Shortstop Jorge Polanco has been tearing the American League to shreds, batting .333/.393/.569 with ten homers and an AL-leading 82 hits. Our old friend Nelson Cruz has been hot after missing nearly a month on the injured list, the Twins' catching tandem of Jason Castro and Mitch Garver has a combined line of .295/.390/.632, and left fielder Eddie Rosario leads the league in RBI with 52. This squad can mash, making them a tough assignment for Seattle pitchers.
They can pitch, too. The Mariners luck out by avoiding staff ace Jake Odorizzi in this series; the former Tampa Bay Ray is having a career year, leading the league in both wins and ERA. Instead, they'll once again face Martín Pérez, José Berrios, and former Mariner Michael Pineda. Pérez and Pineda both notched wins against the M's last month, while Berrios had a no-decision in a blowout win for Minnesota. Pérez and Berrios are better than their numbers indicate, though those numbers are nothing to sneeze at; together they've won 15 games, after all. Pineda has struggled, though, and keeping his ERA under 6.00 has been a challenge. The Twins' bullpen is decent, particularly Taylor Rodgers and Ryne Harper, though the team's cumulative relief stats are nothing special. The M's counter with Mike Leake, Tommy Milone, and Marco Gonzales.
|vs. AL West||12-5|
Who’s Hot & Not
Last 10 gms: .333/.353/.727, 3 HR, 8 RBI
Last 10 gms: .308/.357/.564, 6 XBH, 4 RBI
Last 10 gms: .300/.364/.525, 7 XBH, 9 RBI
Last 10 gms: .171/.293/.486, 3 HR, 7 RBI
Last 10 gms: .220/.273/.488, 3 HR, 7 RBI
Last 10 gms: .158/.220/.263, 1 HR, 2 RBI
Last 3 series vs. Seattle
|5/19/19||SEA 7, MIN 4|
|5/18/19||MIN 18, SEA 4|
|5/17/19||MIN 7, SEA 1|
|5/16/16||MIN 11, SEA 6|
|5/27/18||SEA 3, MIN 1|
|5/26/18||SEA 4, MIN 3|
|5/25/18||SEA 2, MIN 1|
|4/7/18||SEA 11, MIN 4|
|4/5/18||MIN 4, SEA 2|
Rocco Baldelli: The onetime Tampa Bay Devil Rays standout had an abbreviated playing career thanks to a series of injuries and illness that was eventually sourced to mitochondrial channelopathy exacerbated by a childhood bout with Lyme disease; a treatment of medications and dietary proscriptions helped some, but he still had to retire as a player at age 29. Since then he's worked for the Rays as a special assistant, roving instructor, first-base coach, and finally as Major League Field Coordinator. The Twins hired him after letting former manager Paul Molitor go following last season. Like Alex Cora with the Red Sox and Aaron Boone with the Yankees, Baldelli assumed the reins of a big-league club without any previous managerial experience.
“You learn something new every day,” Baldelli said of his rookie managerial experience, acknowledging that he still has more to learn. But he's done a bang-up job so far—the Twins are 11 games over .500 a quarter of the way into the season and ahead of second-place Cleveland by four games. They are also among the top home-run-hitting teams, but unlike Seattle manager Scott Servais, Baldelli recognizes that as one element of an offense, not the entirety. “It’s easy to get excited about the home runs," he said, "and they’re great, you know, they help you win games, but I think the [other] at-bats that our guys have been having up and down the lineup [are what] lead you to a good outcome, a successful outcome."
Nelson Cruz: Many Mariner fans were displeased when the club didn't make an effort to re-sign Cruz when his four-year contract ran out after last season. Cruz was arguably the best free-agent signing the Mariners ever made, putting up an impressive .284/.362/.546 line with 163 home runs in his Seattle tenure, but the now-38-year-old didn't fit into the Mariners' future plans. Instead, he signed a one-year-plus-team-option deal with Minnesota, and in his first year there has been just as good as he was with the M's.
|Minnesota Twins||(1961 - present)|
|World Champions:||1924, 1987, 1991|
|League Champions:||1925, 1933, 1965|
|Division Titles:||1969, 1970|