If it seems like the Minnesota Twins are on the road a lot this month, it’s because they are.
Including the Twins’ current nine-game, 10-day road trip — a season-long jaunt — that’s taken them to Toronto and now Detroit before three games in Boston early next week, Minnesota will play 18 games on the road this month. By comparison, the Twins have just 10 home games in June. That includes a brief four-game home stand against the White Sox starting next Thursday before heading back on the road for six more games.
As it’s turned out, that might not be a bad thing.
Minnesota currently has a better record on the road (16-16) than it does at Target Field (15-17), albeit ever so slight of an edge. In fact, the Twins actually played better away from home last year, too. During the 96-loss season in 2013, Minnesota was 34-47 on the road and just 32-49 at home.
Already this season, the Twins have played better baseball away from Target Field. On Minnesota’s last road trip before its current nine-game stretch, Ron Gardenhire’s team won three out of five against the Yankees and Brewers. Shockingly enough, the Twins have now gone 4-2 at Yankee Stadium over the past two seasons in a ballpark that historically has been a house of horrors for Minnesota.
The Twins’ current road trip is no walk in the park, either. Minnesota opened with three games at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, where the Twins went 1-2 last year. Earlier this week, Minnesota had a chance to sweep the series if not for a walk-off win in the series opener by the Blue Jays. Yet the Twins bounced back to take two of three against a first-place Toronto team that seems to always hit well against Minnesota.
"The first game didn’t go our way, but the last two, we played pretty good baseball," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said after the series in Toronto.
Things don’t get any easier this weekend as Minnesota gets set for a three-game tilt in Detroit against the Tigers, who lead the American League Central with a 34-28 record. It’s a chance for the Twins (31-33) to gain ground in the division, as Detroit has yet to run away from the pack in the Central. Heading into Friday’s game, Minnesota — in last place in the division — trails the Tigers by four games.
"A tough trip all the way around," said Gardenhire, whose team was 4-6 in Detroit last year and lost two of three series at Comerica Park. "Hopefully we’ll play a little better baseball and pitch a little better."
There’s truly not much separation among the AL Central’s five teams. Second-place Kansas City (33-32) is just 2 1/2 games back of Detroit, while the White Sox and Indians are both 33-34 and 3 1/2 games off the Tigers’ pace. If Minnesota can continue to play well on the road this weekend, it will have a chance to gain some ground in the division. It helps that the Twins will miss out on the Tigers’ top two pitchers, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, in this three-game series at Comerica Park.
Once the Twins leave the Motor City, the road trip continues with three games in Boston. A year ago, Minnesota actually had some success at Fenway Park, winning three of four games. The one loss was a 6-5 walk-off to open the series. The Red Sox have had their struggles this season, too, as they’re currently eight games out of first place in the AL East.
Minnesota has not played well in recent years against the American League East, particularly on the road. Already this year, though, the Twins are 6-3 in road series against AL East teams, winning series against Tampa Bay, New York and Toronto. A chance to win yet another series out east, this time in Boston, starts Monday.
While right-hander Kyle Gibson has enjoyed far more success at home than on the road, the pitching staff as a whole has actually been slightly better away from Target Field. Minnesota’s pitchers have an ERA of 4.44 at Target Field this year and 4.34 in opposing ballparks. On top of that, 10 of closer Glen Perkins’ 16 saves have come on the road, a sign that Minnesota has been competitive outside of its own park.
Gardenhire has said in the past that the recipe for success is to win series at home and play .500 baseball on the road. The Twins have done the latter, but have had trouble with the former. They’ll only get one more chance to win a series at home this month but will have 12 more games in which to play .500 or better on the road. Following that brief four-game homestand with Chicago, Minnesota hits the road again and heads west for games against the Angels and Texas.
With an improved Twins team, it’s not out of the question to think Minnesota could win a series in Boston for the third straight year (the Twins took three of four at Fenway in 2012, too) — and possibly come home with a winning road trip in the books. Now the key will be figuring out how to win at Target Field.
FOX Sports North’s Jamie Hersch contributed to this report.