Red Sox-Twins Preview
The last-place Twins are probably glad Joe Mauer will be around to help keep that from happening.
Mauer will be back with the Twins on Saturday night as the Red Sox go for a fifth straight win at Minnesota.
Boston (25-17) has won six of seven at Target Field, including four straight while hitting .338 with six homers and 27 runs. It last won five in a row as the visitor against the Twins from 2000-01 at the Metrodome.
Despite their gaudy offensive numbers of late in Minneapolis, the Red Sox had nine singles among their 10 hits Friday while Jonny Gomes' sacrifice fly scored the go-ahead run in a 3-2, 10-inning win to open this three-game set.
Mauer was scratched from Friday's game after he woke up with back pain. Manager Ron Gardenhire says Mauer came to Target Field on Saturday feeling much better, and he was put back in the lineup as the designated hitter. The plan is for him to catch the series finale on Sunday.
Mauer is on a 14-game hitting streak, during which he has a .446 average with 11 doubles and 11 walks. He's 8 for 18 with five doubles over four meetings with the Red Sox this season.
Scott Diamond (3-3, 4.08 ERA) is scheduled to get the ball looking to build on his own success versus Boston. He tossed seven scoreless innings in a 6-1 road win in his only meeting against the Red Sox on May 7, and that came at the expense of Ryan Dempster, who will oppose him again.
"He makes it real easy," catcher Ryan Doumit said. "He's one of the most prepared pitchers I've ever been around. He has a game plan every time out and sticks to it. Nights like those are fun."
Doumit certainly didn't enjoy Diamond's latest performance, as the left-hander surrendered six runs and nine hits with a career-high three homers in 5 2-3 innings of Sunday's 6-0 loss to Baltimore. He allowed two over his first five starts.
Dempster (2-4, 3.75) is looking to get untracked against the Twins after allowing four runs - two earned - with eight strikeouts in seven innings versus Diamond. He defeated them twice last year behind a 1.29 ERA.
Dempster followed his latest meeting with Minnesota with his worst performance of the season in Sunday's 12-4 loss to Toronto. He was tagged for season highs of six runs, seven hits and three homers in five innings, but he insists he's physically fine.
"I've been feeling really good this year," Dempster told the team's official website. "It's nice as you get older to continue to feel good. That's an important thing, but at the same time, you can feel as good as you want or as bad as you want, you've got to execute pitches.
"Hopefully, I can continue to do that on a consistent basis."
Dempster has had tremendous success against Mauer, who is 1 for 10 with six strikeouts against him.
Dustin Pedroia is a .405 hitter at Minnesota, going 7 for 19 over the past four visits. He went 0 for 3 versus Diamond earlier this month, but is batting .459 in nine games since.