The last time the Minnesota Twins visited Milwaukee, it wasn’t a pleasant trip.
Outfielder Delmon Young suffered an ankle injury when he tried to make a play in left field. He was taken off on a stretcher, although the injury proved to be less serious than it originally looked. Also during that trip last June was when it was announced that Twins first baseman Justin Morneau was going to undergo neck surgery, which ended up sidelining him for months.
On top of that, Minnesota was swept at Miller Park in the three-game series against the Brewers. In fact, the Twins have dropped their last six games on the road in Milwaukee.
Manager Ron Gardenhire’s club will hope for a better trip to Wisconsin this time around when it begins a three-game series against the Brewers starting Friday. Minnesota enters the first interleague series of the year on a two-game winning streak, just the second time the 12-26 Twins have won back-to-back games.
While the Twins are off to a disappointing start — they currently have the worst record in baseball — it hasn’t exactly been the start to 2012 that the Brewers were hoping for, either. After almost making it to the World Series last season, Milwaukee has a losing and lost first baseman Prince Fielder to free agency over the offseason. Following Thursday’s 4-0 loss to Houston, the Brewers are now just 16-22 after finishing 96-66 a year ago.
There will be plenty of storylines to watch this weekend for the Twins, and many of them revolve around the starting pitchers for each game. Left-hander Scott Diamond will start the series opener Friday and is riding a 14-inning scoreless streak to start his 2012 season. He pitched seven scoreless innings in his first two starts after being called up from Triple-A Rochester.
Saturday’s starter, Carl Pavano, has dealt with shoulder soreness this year and has seen his pitch counts and velocity drop off from past seasons. His last start, however, was a step forward as his velocity improved. Can he continue to make progress Saturday against the Brewers? He picked up the loss last time he pitched at Miller Park, allowing five runs on eight hits in six innings last year.
Jason Marquis, Sunday’s starter, has also been knocked around in his first season with the Twins. He gave up five earned runs in each of his last two starts, including Tuesday against Cleveland. His longest outing of the year was just 6 1/3 innings. But Marquis will return to the National League, where he spent 12 seasons before joining Minnesota this year. He’ll get the chance to bat again — he’s a career .197 hitter with five home runs and 53 RBI. He put on a show last week at Target Field when the Twins’ pitchers took early batting practice, hitting several home runs to right field.
Until recent years, the Twins have been historically successful in interleague play. But they finished 8-10 against National League opponents in both 2010 and 2011. Minnesota won’t play another interleague series until June 8 against the Chicago Cubs, but the Twins can get a jump start on the National League this weekend in Milwaukee.
As the Twins look to continue their two-game winning streak, they’ll do so against a Brewers team that has the worst run differential in the National League. After Thursday’s loss to Houston, Milwaukee now has a run differential of -32. Ironically enough, the Twins (-67) are the only team in baseball with a worse run differential.