Marlins-Twins Preview

The Minnesota Twins and Miami Marlins finished at the bottom of

their divisions in 2012. While things appear to be looking up for

the Twins, the Marlins may be even worse off.

Minnesota can match its longest winning streak from 2012 when it

meets visiting Miami in the opener of a split doubleheader

Tuesday.

A 5-3 road win against the White Sox on Sunday gave the Twins

(8-7) their fourth straight victory, putting them on the verge of

equaling their longest run last season from June 30-July 3.

Josh Willingham, who has at least one RBI in each game during

the streak, hit a three-run double in Minnesota’s four-run seventh

inning. Before that, Aaron Hicks – 0 for 19 over his last seven

games – had an RBI single to tie the score at 2-all.

“I’d put us up against anybody right now,” starter Scott

Diamond, who gave up two runs over six innings, told the team’s

official website. “I think we’re playing pretty confidently. As

long as we can execute our pitches and continue to work, I think

we’re going to be better than everybody thinks we are.”

Minnesota’s pitching has been strong during the four-game run,

compiling a 2.19 ERA while allowing 30 hits, eight walks and

striking out 36 over 37 innings.

Kevin Correia (1-1, 2.95 ERA) figures to give the staff a good

shot to continue that trend in the first game of the doubleheader,

as he’s gone at least seven innings in all three of his starts

while limiting opponents to three earned runs or fewer.

Correia was slated to start Monday night’s series opener, which

was preemptively postponed due to approaching inclement weather.

Four of Minnesota’s last eight scheduled games have been wiped out

before they began because of weather problems, including three at

home.

“It’s been frustrating, needless to say,” Twins president Dave

St. Peter said. “Everything pointed to a really ugly night, one

that playing baseball on wasn’t really an option, due to the rain,

due to the snow, due to the wind, due to the cold. It just doesn’t

make much sense.”

Correia will have to overcome some past struggles against the

Marlins, though. He’s 3-4 with an 8.01 ERA in eight starts versus

Miami.

Facing this Marlins lineup, however, may not prove to be

particularly daunting. Miami (4-15) is off to the worst start in

franchise history hampered by an abysmal offense, though Giancarlo

Stanton finally recorded his first RBI in a 10-6 loss at Cincinnati

on Sunday.

“It doesn’t give any excuse to my terrible play before that,”

said Stanton, who was 4 for 18 with eight strikeouts in the

four-game series against the Reds and is batting .188. “I can only

look forward. I could have hit left-handed and done as well.”

Stanton’s struggles are far from the only thing weighing down

Miami’s offense. The Marlins rank near the bottom in baseball in

batting average (.212), slugging percentage (.266) and on-base

percentage (.271). Their six home runs are the fewest in the

majors.

“We haven’t hit well enough to overcome those mistakes,” said

manager Mike Redmond, who played for the Twins from 2005-09.

“Hopefully, this gets Stanton something to build on.”

Making the start for Miami in the first game will be Ricky

Nolasco (0-2, 3.86), who has felt the brunt of the inept offense

while getting 1.54 runs of support per nine innings.

Nolasco has never faced the Twins, while teammates Juan Pierre

and Miguel Olivo are 8 for 19 and 6 for 10 off of Correia,

respectively.

Mike Pelfrey (2-1, 7.30) gets the ball in the nightcap for

Minnesota, and he’s struggled in his career against the Marlins.

Pitching for the Mets from 2006-12, the right-hander went 1-8 with

a 5.20 ERA in 17 starts versus Miami.

Stanton is 8 for 17 with two home runs against Pelfrey, who beat

the Angels 8-6 last Tuesday after allowing four runs and seven hits

over five innings.

Rookie Jose Fernandez will make his fourth career start for the

Marlins in the second game. Fernandez (0-1, 3.60) is coming off his

worst outing thus far, allowing five runs and six hits in four

innings of an 11-1 loss at Cincinnati on Thursday.

The 20-year-old right-hander had a 0.82 ERA after his first two

starts.

“If this would have happened to me last year, today I would have

still been like going crazy about it. Now, it was just a bad day,”

Fernandez told the Marlins’ official website. “I talked to some

people, and the next day I was there getting ready to do what I do

to prepare for the next game. I’m pretty happy about that.”