First Pitch: 6:10 PM CDT
TV: Fox Sports North
Radio: Radio Network
Know Thine Enemy: Over the Monster
There's an old saying about how people are at their most dangerous when backed into a corner. The Twins should keep this in mind and tread carefully as they head into Fenway for a short two-game set that opens tonight.
The Red Sox, typically a dominant force in the AL East, are at a potential crossroads in their season. A poor start already has them 8.5 games out in the division, and neither the Rays nor Yankees look like they'll be relenting any time soon. If the Sox let this gap widen much more over the next several weeks, they could be staring at a nearly insurmountable deficit by the All-Star break. That's why this current stretch of baseball, which has them playing against the Yankees, Twins, Phillies and Rays, looms quite large for the Red Sox.
With tough road series in Philadelphia and Tampa on tap, the Sox are no doubt setting their sights on a series sweep against the Twins, who took three of four from Boston at Target Field back in April. The Red Sox are coming off a couple very emotional games against their rivals in New York, so the impetus will be on the Twins to match Boston's intensity level. That will, of course, require a much more inspired performance than the one we saw yesterday in Toronto.
Of note is that David Ortiz, who was basically an automatic out the last time the Twins saw the Red Sox, is really coming on. After batting .143 with one homer in April, Ortiz is hitting .367 with a 1.163 OPS in May and has already launched six balls out of the park in 13 games. He's still striking out at a pretty high rate, so Twins pitchers should be looking to throw the ball past him, because when he's been making contact this month he's been doing damage, evidenced by a ridiculous .444 batting average on balls in play.
A quick glance at tonight's pitching match-up:
#30 / Pitcher / Minnesota Twins
Sep 19, 1981
|2010 - Scott Baker||4-3||8||8||0||0||0||0||49.1||56||27||27||6||11||43||4.93||1.36|
After another slow start, Baker has shown signs of settling in over his past few outings. In his last turn against the Yankees, Baker was on his way to a quality start -- having yielded three runs over his first six innings of work -- but he allowed a pair of hits to lead off the seventh and watched them both score when Alex Rodriguez hit a grand slam off Matt Guerrier. Baker struck out nine and walked only one in that outing, but he did allow 10 hits, which has been symptomatic of his overall problems this year. His strikeout, walk and home run rates are all in line with his career figures but opponents are batting .283 against him.
#11 / Pitcher / Boston Red Sox
Aug 14, 1984
|2010 - Clay Buchholz||4-3||7||7||0||0||0||0||41.2||43||22||16||2||22||28||3.46||1.56|
Buchholz has gotten solid results this year but he's walking a dangerous rope with his 28-to-22 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 41 2/3 innings. In three May starts, he's issued 13 walks while notching only six strikeouts and allowing opponents to hit .313 against him. While he's somehow managed to 2-1 in those three starts despite the ugly peripherals, he won't keep succeeding for long with that type of performance. Patience will be key for the Twins hitters this evening.
Lineups below the jump. Enjoy the game folks.
05/19/10 7:10 PM EDT
|Minnesota Twins||Boston Red Sox|
|Denard Span - CF||J.D. Drew - RF|
|Orlando Hudson - 2B||Dustin Pedroia - 2B|
|Joe Mauer - C||Victor Martinez - C|
|Justin Morneau - 1B||Kevin Youkilis - 1B|
|Michael Cuddyer - RF||David Ortiz - DH|
|Jim Thome - DH||Adrian Beltre - 3B|
|Jason Kubel - LF||Jeremy Hermida - LF|
|Brendan Harris - SS||Bill Hall - SS|
|Nick Punto - 3B||Darnell McDonald - CF|