It’s only the middle of May and the Minnesota Twins find themselves opening what very well could be a make-it-or-break-it six-game homestand starting with three games against the American League West-leading Oakland A’s at Target Field in Minneapolis on Friday.
The Twins, the two-time reigning AL Central champs, limp into the series with a four-game losing streak and have dropped seven of their past eight games. After losing 4-2 on Thursday afternoon to the White Sox in Chicago, the Twins find themselves in last place in the Central, 10 games behind the White Sox and 11 games under .500 for the first time since Sept. 21, 2018.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli was asked if his team might be digging a hole that’s too deep to dig out of.
“I’ve been thinking that for a while now, to be honest,” Baldelli told the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Minnesota went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position in Thursday’s loss to Chicago, leaving the bases loaded in both the fourth and fifth innings. The Twins wasted another solid start by Michael Pineda (2-2, 2.79 ERA), who allowed three runs on four hits over 5 1/3 innings while striking out seven.
“It’s a little frustrating because we want to win, and we tried everything to win the game at the end of the day, you know?” Pineda said. “We lost the game, and yeah, it’s a little frustration for everybody.”
Not even designated hitter Nelson Cruz putting a Gatorade cooler on his head as an extra-large rally cap could help the Twins.
“Whatever we need to do to get something rolling and get a few runs home when we need it, I’ll take it,” said Baldelli of Cruz’s lid.
Right-hander Matt Shoemaker (2-3, 6.43 ERA) will make his 17th career start against Oakland. Shoemaker, who pitched five shutout innings to pick up the win in a 7-3 victory at Detroit last Friday, is 6-4 with a 4.42 ERA in his career against the A’s.
Shoemaker has faced Oakland once this season when the Twins were swept in three games in the Bay Area, allowing five runs on four hits, including a pair of Mitch Moreland home runs, and four walks in 3 1/3 innings in a 7-0 loss on April 20.
Oakland will counter with right-hander Frankie Montas (4-2, 5.50 ERA) who will be making his first career start at Target Field. He is 0-0 with a 8.25 ERA in six career games against the Twins, making his only start against them on April 21 in Oakland when he allowed six runs, including a pair of homers to Cruz and Josh Donaldson, on nine hits over four innings in a game the A’s eventually won in 10 innings, 13-12.
Oakland began its six-game road trip by taking two out of three against AL East- leading Boston, but dropped the series finale on Thursday night, 8-1, as starter Sean Manaea gave up seven runs on 10 hits in two-plus innings.
“Just got to wash it and get ready for the next start,” said Manaea, who pitched seven no-hit innings in his previous start against Tampa Bay. “Definitely over the next couple of days look at some tape and see if there is anything crazy going on. But I think more than anything, I just have to wash it and get ready for the next one.”
Despite the loss, the A’s still hold a 1 1/2 game lead over Houston in the West.
“That’s all you can ask for, winning series, particularly on the road,” second baseman Jed Lowrie said.
–Field Level Media