Rockies-Twins Preview

Facing NL opponents has provided a big boost in recent seasons

for the Minnesota Twins, who boast the best interleague record in

the majors since the start of 2006.

Lately, the Colorado Rockies have enjoyed playing against the AL

even more.

The Rockies will be looking to win their sixth straight

interleague game for the first time in nearly four years while

handing the Twins a third consecutive defeat as the teams open a

three-game set at Target Field on Tuesday night.

Minnesota (36-27) and Detroit are the only teams to win more

than 70 percent of their interleague games in the last five years,

with each going 56-22 against the NL.

The Twins, however, dropped their final two games against

visiting Atlanta over the weekend, the second time they’ve lost an

interleague series in 13 tries. Minnesota hasn’t dropped three

straight to NL foes since losing one to Milwaukee and two to

Washington from May 20-June 9, 2007.

Carl Pavano (6-6, 3.92 ERA) will be on the mound in hopes of

preventing that result, and he’s been sharp at the Twins’ new

ballpark lately.

The right-hander has pitched a minimum of seven innings in each

of his last five home starts, going 3-2 with a 2.84 ERA. He beat

Kansas City on Wednesday, allowing two runs in eight innings of a

6-2 win.

“I just got more consistent as the game went on,” Pavano said.

“The sinker was all right, the changeup was a pitch I was able to

mix in there. (Catcher) Joe (Mauer) and I were able to keep them

off balance and I just felt I was able to move the ball around

enough to keep them guessing.”

Colorado counters with Aaron Cook as the veteran sinkerballer

tries again for his first road win. The right-hander is 0-3 with a

6.81 ERA away from Denver.

Cook (2-3, 4.76) was sharp in his last outing, giving up two

runs and five hits in seven innings Wednesday against Houston,

although the Rockies’ bullpen crumbled late in a 6-2, 10-inning

defeat.

After losing three straight to the lowly Astros, Colorado

(33-30) bounced back with a three-game sweep of Toronto over the

weekend and improved to 16-4 in its last 20 interleague games.

The Rockies have won their last five against the AL, matching

their longest interleague winning streak since taking eight

straight bridging 2005 and 2006.

Carlos Gonzalez and Ryan Spilborghs helped power the Rockies

against the Blue Jays, combining for five home runs – including

three in Sunday’s 10-3 win. Spilborghs, who’s been used as a pinch

hitter for much of the season, had two homers and was 7 for 12 with

six extra-base hits in the series.

“I have guys that take swings just to be swinging sometimes,

just to get loose,” hitting coach Don Baylor told the Rockies’

official website. “(Spilborghs is)not one of those. He’s always

working on something.”

Minnesota, on the other hand, was held to seven runs in three

games against the Braves, with Justin Morneau’s batting average

slipping to .350 following an 0-for-7 performance in the last

two.

Mauer hasn’t homered since May 14, batting .276 with 12 RBIs in

28 games. The 2009 AL MVP has two homers this season – none at

Target Field – after totaling a career-high 28 last year.