Preview: Minnesota Twins vs. Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins waged one of the most memorable World Series in history 25 years ago. The stakes will be a little different this week when the teams play a two-game series beginning on Tuesday at Target Field.
The Twins will celebrate the silver anniversary of their second world championship this week with festivities scheduled prior to both games against the Braves.
Both clubs more closely resemble the 1990 versions of themselves. The Braves and Twins each finished in last place that season before rebounding to meet in the 1991 World Series.
Atlanta enters the week having started its nine-game road trip against Cincinnati, Colorado and Minnesota with just a 1-6 mark. After winning three of their final four games heading into the All-Star break, the Braves have emerged with a 2-8 record, including a four-game sweep at the hands of the Rockies at Coors Field over the weekend.
"We didn’t play good in any facet of the game," Braves left fielder Jeff Francoeur told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "We didn’t hit, we didn’t pitch great. Just a disappointing series, especially with the way we ended the first half, when we went out playing really well. We just haven’t been able to pick it up in the second half, and that’s the frustrating part, when you come in here and they just … beat us bad. They beat us bad."
The Braves will try to salvage their road trip on Tuesday when they send Lucas Harrell to the mound. The right-hander has been solid since joining Atlanta’s rotation earlier this month, compiling a 1-2 record with 4.24 ERA in four starts.
The Twins return home following a seven-game road trip that saw them go 4-3 against Detroit and Boston.
Minnesota split a four-game series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park over the weekend. An error by Miguel Sano with two outs in the fifth on Sunday allowed three unearned runs to score later in the inning and spoiled a chance for the Twins to finish the trip on a three-game winning streak. Boston hung on for an 8-7 victory.
"(We went) home with a winning record on the trip, but you’d like to get greedy and finish it with a win," Twins manager Paul Molitor told MLB.com. "But we weren’t able to do it."
Sano has committed 10 errors in his last 15 games played at third base, including a miscue in each of the last three games. The second-year slugger has hit .308 with three homers and eight RBIs over that same stretch, however.
Minnesota has played better of late, having already won more games in July (12) than it has in any other month this season. A win on Tuesday would ensure at least a .500 record since July 1.
The Twins will send former Brave Ervin Santana to the mound on Tuesday in what could be his final start with Minnesota. The right-hander is 3-8 with a 3.93 ERA in 18 starts this season but has been outstanding of late, posting a 2.03 ERA over his last six starts.
The solid stretch of games has helped bolster his trade value and with the market for starting pitchers considered shallow, Santana could be on the move ahead of the Aug. 1 trade deadline.