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Game 102: Twins at Athletics

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Chris Smith tiiiiime is heeeeere...

You're a mean one, Mr. Smith.
You're a mean one, Mr. Smith.
Denis Poroy/Getty Images

First Pitch: 8:05 PM Central
TV: FSN
TV for Your Ears: Go 96.3, TIBN
Know Thin3 Enemy: Athletics Nation

You've heard of Christmas in July? Well, get ready for Chris Smith in July. That's right -- this evening's starter in the Land of Oaks is none other than 36-year-old Chris Smith, a California native who's led an interesting career. He originally debuted with the Boston Red Sox in 2008, played for Milwaukee in 2009 and '10, spent time in the Mariners' minor leagues in 2011, and then went into independent baseball for two seasons.

He was in the Padres organization for the next two years, but failed to make it back to the majors. It wasn't until last season that he returned to the MLB as a reliever for the Oakland A's (where he had a 2.92 ERA and 10.6 K/9 after having posted -0.7 WAR in his career up until then.)

This year, Smith has made three starts for Oakland -- the first three starts of his major-league career. He has a 3.32 ERA, but a 5.10 FIP and only 4.7 K/9. He utilizes a fastball (50.9% of his pitches), curve (25.2%), and change-up (23.9%.) He sits in the mid-to-low 80's with his hardest stuff, so we'll see if Minnesota can't tee off on some of his weaker offerings.

Adalberto Mejia will attempt to sleigh Chris Smith tonight. Mejia has given up just two earned runs across his last two starts, but has only 9.2 innings to show for it. If Mejia can pound the zone and get the Oakland batters behind early, he should be able to limit his pitch count and retain that level of consistency deeper into the ballgame. His season ERA is slowly approaching the sub-3.00 mark (4.10), as he's begun to look better and better over the last month.

A win tonight would return the Minnesota Twins to the .500 mark and make difficult decisions even tougher for the Falvine Bros. With the Indians on an eight-game winning streak and the Royals on an even better nine-game tear, keeping pace is crucial at this juncture.

Today's Lineups

MINNESOTA TWINS OAKLAND A'S
Brian Dozier - 2B Rajai Davis - RF
Max Kepler - RF Marcus Semien - SS
Miguel Sano - 3B Ryon Healy - DH
Joe Mauer - 1B Khris Davis - LF
Eduardo Escobar - SS Jed Lowrie - 2B
Eddie Rosario - LF Yonder Alonso - 1B
Robbie Grossman - DH Matt Chapman - 3B
Zack Granite - CF Ryan Lavarnway - C
Jason Castro - C Jaycob Brugman - CF
Adalberto Mejia - LHP Chris Smith - RHP