The first place Minnesota Twins will face their third straight AL-West team this week in the Seattle Mariners. After taking three of four from second place Los Angeles, they are scheduled for a three-game series against the third place team in the AL West. Third place, sure, but still 13.5 games behind the AL West-leading (and MLB-leading) Houston Astros.
In 2016, the Twins took 4-of-6 on the season from the Mariners, including a sweep in late May. In that series, three guys who are no longer playing baseball for the Minnesota Twins (Pat Dean, Ryan Pressly, and Ricky Nolasco) took wins, and Kevin Jepsen earned two saves. The Twins lost the second series, with Tyler Duffey picking up the only win, and Brandon Kintzler getting the save. Hector Santiago lost a close one, and Kyle Gibson pitched a Gibson-esque game (5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 2 K) only to see his bullpen implode for 8 runs after he exited. These would be losses number 99 and 100 for that ill fated 2016 Twins squad.
Seattle comes into this series with a triple slash of .262/.335/.409—which is one of the highest batting averages and on base percentages in the American League, but the second-to-worst slugging percentage. They have hit 59 home runs on the season, making the Boston Red Sox the only team with fewer round-trippers. The Twins, in contrast, have hit 64 home runs, in five fewer games played than Seattle.
The Mariner’s pitching staff owns a 4.54 ERA, which places them 12th in the AL, one spot ahead of the Twins and their 4.60 team ERA. Both teams have seen extremely similar triple slashes against their hurlers; .256/.321/.434 for Seattle, and .255/.331/.436 for Minnesota. Seattle has given up 82 HR, and the Twins have allowed 81 HR. Now would be a very good time for Brian Dozier and Eddie Rosario to find their bats.
Seattle does a slightly below average job of catching would-be base stealers, taking down about one out of every four. As we know, the Twins like to be aggressive on the base path, so that may play to their favor. The Mariners have a slightly above average fielding percentage of .985, while Minnesota is near the top of the AL at .989.
Safeco Field has a retractable roof, and open sides, so they can play “outdoor” baseball even when it rains. Sounds like a dandy idea, doesn’t it. The roof can be extended during the game by ground rule, if weather warrants, at the home team’s discretion. Play does not need to stop while this happens, unless the umpire decides it does. It can also be opened, once during a game and only between innings, although the visitors can protest this. If they choose to protest, final decision falls to the Crew Chief.
“Even I didn’t know I could pitch like that” - Chris Gimenez (probably)
Game 1: Tuesday, 6/6/16; 9:10 PM Central — Hector Santiago (4-5) LHP vs James Paxton (4-0) LHP
Game 2: Wednesday, 6/7/16; 9:10 PM Central — Adalberto Mejia (1-1) LHP vs Yovani Gallardo (2-6) RHP
Game 3: Thursday, 6/8/16; 9:10 PM Central — Ervin Santana (7-3) RHP (?) vs Christian Bergman (3-2) RHP
- The projected starters for game 3 are a bit of a mystery. MLB.com is showing TBD, and ESPN is projecting Ervin Santana, but it should be Gibson’s turn in the rotation. ESPN is projecting Gibby to start the following day in San Francisco, so they may just have the two switched. Phil Hughes will also be eligible to come off the disabled list, which may also be causing some confusion. The off day would put Santana on normal rest, however, so it is possible the Twins skip a starter.
- In addition to Hughes, Justin Haley is also eligible to return for this series, and Eduardo Escobar, who left the final game against the Angels with a knee injury, is currently day-to-day.
- The Mariners currently have 10 players on the DL, including 4 starting pitchers, most notably Felix Hernandez and Drew Smyly. That list also includes two shortstops, and their current options at that position, Taylor Motter and Tyler Smith, have played in a combined 86 career games. Motter is a second baseman, but has the bulk of the MLB experience. Smith has only played in 3 games in his brief career, but is the only shortstop currently listed on their 25-man roster.
- Old Friend Sightings: Danny Valencia has been Seattle’s starting first baseman for most of the 2017 season. He is hitting .283/.343/.435. Yes, that means he is worse than Joe Mauer. Casey Fien pitched six innings for the Mariners and posted a 15.00 ERA. He was DFA’d twice, and the second time traded to the Phillies for cash. He is currently playing for the Red Wings rival Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. #banthebacon
- Hector Santiago has a career line of .204/.287/.359 against the Mariners, the only guy to hit him well has been Danny Valencia. Nelson Cruz has 3 HR and a double against Santiago, but has only hit 5-of-18. James Paxton has held the Twins to .204/.244/.333, Eduardo Escobar has a dong off of him, and Miguel Sano is 2-3 with a triple. Jason Castro (.400) and Byron Buxton (.500) also have good averages in limited a sample.
- Unsurprisingly for a rookie, Mejia has never faced a member of the Mariners line-up. His opponent, Gallardo, has been around forever (ok, ten years) and has been hit hard by several members of the Twins. Buxton has two doubles off Gallardo in two plate appearances. Mauer, Castro, and Dozier have all hit well against him, with the latter two each having a home run. Sano is credited with only one plate appearance, but also owns 3 walks against the veteran starter.
- Ehire Adrianza is the only Twin to face Bergman, and is 1 for 3. Santana has faced the M’s 146 times in his career. Robinson Cano has hit 6 home runs off of him, and Nelson Cruz has hit 3. Overall, Seattle is hitting .288/.356/.562 against the Twins ace. If Gibson starts game 3, his career numbers are a bit better. He has given up 2 home runs, and a line of .242/.292/.383 in just over half as many career at-bats.
- In 1997, the Twins sent Roberto Kelly to the Mariners for two PTBNL, one of whom ended up being Joe Mays. In 2004 Minnesota purchased the contract of Terry Mulholland from Seattle. In 1996, Dave Hollins was sent from Minnesota to Seattle for a PTBNL, which ended up being future superstar and Tom-Kelly-Fan-Club-President (not really) David Ortiz. A confusing move during the 2014 season saw the Twins send recently signed DH Kendrys Morales back to Seattle after he played in only 39 games for the Twins.
How many games do the Twins win in Seattle?
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