The Minnesota Twins will have to come back and try to split the series, as Tyler Duffey will pitch and try to do just that against the Atlanta Braves. The Atlanta Braves will want to finish off a nine-game road trip on a more positive note, when they play the second of a two-game Interleague series at Target Field.
In the series opener, luck went their way, since after losing six of their first seven games on the road trip, the Braves emerged victorious on Tuesday, with a 2-0 victory behind six shutout innings from starting pitcher Lucas Harrell.
“It’d be great (to finish the trip with a win),” said Braves interim manager Brian Snitker. “It’s been a rough road trip. The one game we won in Cincinnati was hard fought and it wasn’t good in Colorado. It was good, after the off day (Monday), guys came out and played a really good ball game.”
And outside of Harrell performing well, the Braves also got a long solo homer from third baseman Adonis Garcia, who continued his on-base streak to 16 games, and was able to extend his hitting streak to a career-best eight games. During his hitting streak Garcia is hitting at .394. Even his manager is impressed: “He’s been really good,” Snitker said.
The Twins who also have struggled om the road went 4-3, in Detroit and Boston, had a day off Monday but against Harrell they just weren’t able to fire up their batting lineup. That was frustrating for Minnesota, who over the last month has been one of the hottest offensive teams in baseball. So it was strange that they stranded seven runners and went 0-for-11 at the plate with runners in scoring position in Tuesday’s loss.
“We just squandered opportunities early,” said Twins manager Paul Molitor. “We were within striking distance. The bats weren’t particularly good for the most part. It felt a little sluggish.”
So in their next match up, both teams will look for a stronger outing from their starters. Atlanta will send to the mound right-hander Mike Foltynewicz. He has been one of the Braves’ most consistent starters this season. He boasts a 3.79 ERA over 11 starts, but has to take the loss his last effort, in allowing three runs on four hits and a season-high five walks in a 7-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies last Thursday.
Duffey will want to rebound for the Twins. His play has not been that good, allowing six runs on nine hits and a walk in just 2 1/3 innings on Thursday in what was a blowout loss to the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. That outing was his shortest since he went just two innings in his major league debut last August. It’s not a trend he wants to repeat anytime soon.
There is some history between the teams too and some bad blood. It’s because Minnesota beat Atlanta in the 1991 World Series. But since then, the Braves have dominated the Interleague series between the clubs. And their win on Tuesday improved that Braves record to 3-1 at Target Field. Atlanta has won its last six games overall against Minnesota, and the Twins know it.
They’re 12-7 with a .276 batting average, 24 homers and 116 runs in its past 19 games. Their offensive spurt explains how they’re five games over .500 despite having a 4.05 ERA in that stretch.
If you look back just as much as a few weeks ago, it seemed like this series would be a battle for the bottom, since the two teams have the worst records in the majors. But the Twins have been playing so much better of late that even a two-game sweep by the Braves (33-66) would leave Atlantia with two fewer wins than the Twins (37-61).
But we don’t think they’ll let the Braves do that.