Twins-Diamondbacks Preview

Minnesota has one of the best records in the history of

interleague play. The Arizona Diamondbacks have one of the

worst.

The Twins look to continue their success against the NL with a

season-high fourth straight victory overall Friday night against

the Diamondbacks at Chase Field.

At 140-106, Minnesota is tied with Boston for the third-most

interleague victories. Though the Twins went 8-10 against the NL

last year, they are 8-4 against Arizona, which ranks near the

bottom of the majors with a 90-112 interleague mark.

The Twins are 4-2 at Chase Field, where they took two of three

in 2005.

Minnesota (15-27) should have plenty of momentum after winning

three in a row following a season-high nine-game skid. The Twins

concluded a two-game sweep at Oakland with an 11-1 victory

Thursday.

“Are we out of the woods? No. We still have issues, we still

have things we have to get better at,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire

said. “I think winning a couple games gives you a better feeling

and a little more confidence in your abilities. We’ll try to build

off that.”

Michael Cuddyer went 3 for 4 and Justin Morneau 3 for 5 with a

two-run homer as Minnesota scored its most runs of the season

Thursday. Cuddyer, four hits shy of becoming the 14th player in

franchise history to reach 1,000, has hit .333 with six RBIs his

last 15 games to raise his average 41 points to .267.

He’s hit .353 (6 for 17) with a home run his last five games

versus Arizona.

Morneau is batting .387 his last 10 games, but .219 (7 for 32)

in nine games against the Diamondbacks (20-23).

The Twins could have their hands full against Ian Kennedy (4-1,

3.05 ERA), who is 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA his last six starts.

The right-hander has yielded one run, eight hits and struck out

16 in his last two starts. That run came over six innings of a 4-1

win at the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday.

“He’s been solid his last so many outings and establishes his

fastball well. He does some things to disrupt your timing up

there,” Dodgers infielder Aaron Miles told the Diamondbacks’

official website. “He’s their No. 1 guy for a reason.”

Though Kennedy pitched 14 games for the New York Yankees from

2007-09, he’s facing Minnesota for the first time.

Making his first interleague start, Minnesota’s Brian Duensing

(2-3, 4.61) looks to avoid a fourth consecutive loss in the opener.

The left-hander has a 7.50 ERA his last three games after he

allowed seven runs and eight hits in three innings of an 11-3 loss

to Toronto on Sunday.

Those struggles have prompted some talk that starter-turned

reliever Kevin Slowey could take Duensing’s spot in the

rotation.

“I want to be a starter, but whatever they decide, that’s their

call,” Duensing said. “I’ll do whatever they want.”

First baseman Juan Miranda is 1 for 13 against the Twins, but 6

for 12 during the Diamondbacks’ season-high three-game winning

streak – all at home. Miranda had three hits with an RBI as Arizona

won for the fifth time in six games, 2-1 over Atlanta on

Thursday.

“It’s something we needed to do,” said closer J.J. Putz, who

recorded his 10th save in as many tries Thursday. “We hope (it will

continue).”

Arizona has won six of eight at home.