Twins-Brewers Preview

A home series with the Minnesota Twins usually brings out the

best in the Milwaukee Brewers.

With the way things have been going, the reigning NL Central

champions will be desperate for that trend to continue when they

open a three-game set with the Twins on Friday night at Miller

Park.

Milwaukee (16-22) lost for the fourth time in five games

Thursday, falling 4-0 at Houston. The Brewers have totaled eight

runs in those defeats while batting .152 with runners in scoring

position.

“We have a lot of things that we have to start doing better

offensively,” manager Ron Roenicke said.

Milwaukee enters interleague play with the NL’s fourth-worst

record and is six games out of first in the Central. The Brewers

raced to a division crown last season thanks to their outstanding

play at Miller Park, leading the majors with a franchise-record 57

home wins. They didn’t lose their ninth game in Milwaukee last

season until June 9, their 31st home contest, but are 9-9 in front

of the home fans this year.

A series with Minnesota might be what Milwaukee needs to

establish some home-field advantage.

The Brewers have gone 4-2 against the Twins each of the past two

seasons, and have outscored Minnesota 38-14 in winning all six

meetings at Miller Park. Ryan Braun is batting .304 with a homer

and seven RBIs in the six home games, Corey Hart has a 1.100 OPS

and Rickie Weeks is hitting .455 with two homers and seven

RBIs.

The Twins (12-26) own baseball’s worst record, but they arrive

in Milwaukee feeling good after beating Detroit 11-7 on Wednesday

and 4-3 Thursday to sweep a two-game series from the defending AL

Central champions.

“We had some good things happen – a good couple of wins here,”

manager Ron Gardenhire said. “This is the team everybody’s picked

to win this division, and you come in here and you win a couple of

ballgames against them. It’s a good feeling. It’s something we can

kind of build off of.”

In trying to win three straight games for the first time,

Gardenhire will give the ball to Scott Diamond (2-0, 0.00 ERA), who

already is tied for the team lead in victories despite being called

up from Triple-A Rochester just last week.

After allowing four hits in seven innings of a 5-0 win over the

Los Angeles Angels on May 8, the left-hander yielded five hits in

seven scoreless innings in Sunday’s 4-3 victory over Toronto. In

the two home outings, he has struck out 10 and walked one.

This will be the first appearance against the Brewers for

Diamond, who went 1-5 with a 5.08 ERA in seven starts as a rookie

last season.

Milwaukee counters with Marco Estrada (0-2, 4.20), who hopes to

do a better job of keeping the ball in the park.

Against the Chicago Cubs on Sunday, Estrada yielded two runs and

five hits in six innings of an 8-2 loss, but didn’t get a decision.

Both runs came off solo homers, and the right-hander has now served

up two home runs in each of his last three starts.

“That’s what’s killing me right now,” he told the Brewers’

official website.

The Twins have an AL-low 25 homers, but have hit two in each of

their last two games.

Justin Morneau hit his fifth Thursday in his second game back

from a trip to the disabled list with a wrist injury. The 2006 AL

MVP is 2 for 2 with a double and a walk against Estrada.

This will be Estrada’s first start against the Twins after

recording a 6.35 ERA in three relief appearances against them.