Twins hanging on to wild-card spot as they host Padres

September 12, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS -- As the Minnesota Twins make a push for the playoffs, they will do so against quite a few opponents with losing records.

That includes this week's brief two-game series against the San Diego Padres, who comes into the Tuesday opener with a 65-79 record. The Twins, meanwhile, are 74-69 and hanging onto the second wild-card spot in the American League by one game over the Los Angeles Angels.

If Minnesota can thrive against upcoming teams with lesser records, the Twins could find themselves in a good spot by the end of the regular season. Manager Paul Molitor, however, isn't paying much attention to that.

"I find it a little bit comical. I saw something about the lack of teams we play that are over .500 as early as a couple of weeks ago," Molitor said. "But the last time I checked, (the games) were all going to be against major league teams."

Right-hander Kyle Gibson will start Tuesday for Minnesota. The Padres will counter with left-hander Travis Wood.

Gibson (9-10, 5.19 ERA) has struggled at times this year, but he has been solid in his past four outings. During that stretch, he is 3-0 with a 1.69 ERA. He will be facing the Padres for the first time in his five-year big league career.

Wood (3-5, 6.00 ERA overall) is making his ninth start with San Diego since he was traded by Kansas City in late July. He has had mixed results so far in his Padres tenure, going 2-2 with a 5.03 ERA in eight starts.

Wood has faced the Twins six times in his career, starting against them twice. In those six games, he does not have a decision and has posted a 5.73 ERA.

Five of those games and one of the starts came earlier this season while Wood was with the Royals. He started against the Twins on July 2 but didn't get a decision after allowing two runs in four innings of Kansas City's 6-2 victory.

Wood was hit hard his last time out, giving up seven runs (six earned) on seven hits in just two innings against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sept. 5.

Unlike the Twins' schedule, many of the Padres' remaining opponents are playoff contenders. After two games in Minneapolis, San Diego plays its next 10 games against the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies, the clubs currently occupying the top two spots in the National League wild-card race.

The San Francisco Giants are the only team left on the Padres' schedule this year that isn't fighting for a playoff spot.

"We're playing as tough of a schedule as you can to end a year," Padres manager Andy Green told Mighty 1090 AM in San Diego. "I think what it does is it teaches you what you need to do to become one of those teams instead of on the outside looking in."

As for playing the role of spoiler? That is not something Green is particularly interested in.

"I'm more interested in our guys getting better and us playing winning baseball," he said.

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