The Minnesota Twins have won 11 of their last 12 interleague
series, and with Kevin Slowey on the mound Sunday, the team feels
good about its chances of taking the decisive game from the
visiting Atlanta Braves.
The Twins’ red-hot right-hander may not have much margin for
error, however, as the two first-place clubs finish a tightly
contested three-game set.
Minnesota (36-26) has the best record of any major league team
in interleague play since the start of 2008, going 29-12 in that
stretch despite Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Braves.
Atlanta lost 2-1 on Friday, but won the middle game after
scoring the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth inning on Brooks
Conrad’s successful squeeze.
“That’s National League baseball at its finest,” Braves pitcher
Derek Lowe said.
Although the series is being played at Target Field, a
lower-scoring NL style has prevailed, with each team totaling four
runs and 14 hits. Another crisp game may take place with Slowey on
Slowey (7-3, 3.45 ERA) is 3-0 in his last five starts, allowing
two runs over 20 2-3 innings spanning his last three outings. He
gave up three hits without issuing a walk in seven scoreless
innings during a 7-3 win over Kansas City on Tuesday.
“I’m being honest with you. … Every start is its own
challenge,” Slowey said. “There’s no reason to combine starts and
say, ‘I’ve had two good ones. This is important to have another
In 12 career interleague starts, Slowey is 7-2 with a 3.04 ERA.
The first was a win over the Braves on June 12, 2007.
This will be Kris Medlen’s first start against an AL opponent as
the right-hander tries to bounce back from his shakiest outing
since entering the rotation last month.
Medlen (3-1, 3.21) gave up four runs – including three home runs
– in five innings Tuesday at Arizona, although the Braves came back
to win 7-5. Medlen left the game with a strained left shoulder that
he injured on a slide while running the bases.
“It kind of felt weird coming out, because it was my left arm,”
Medlen said, “but it hurt at the time.”
He’ll try to help Atlanta (36-27) to its first back-to-back
victories since a nine-game winning streak from May 26-June 3. A
win would also give the Braves their first series victory in an AL
park in their last five tries.
It’s unclear if the Braves will have Chipper Jones in the lineup
after the veteran third baseman was scratched Saturday due to a
lingering finger injury. Conrad filled in with two hits and two
Standout rookie Jason Heyward, who had been dealing with a thumb
injury, is 0 for 8 in this series and 8 for 54 (.148) with 20
strikeouts in his last 13 games.
“As much talent as he has, we still have to remember he is 20
years old,” hitting coach Terry Pendleton told the Braves’ official
website. “Other teams are going to make adjustments, and he’s got
to make adjustments.”