The Twins look to build off a breakout hitting performance as they continue their weekend series with the Brewers at Miller Park on Saturday night.
Last season, Minnesota took an 18-24 record into its first interleague series of the year, a three-game set at Milwaukee from May 19-21, 2006. The Twins scored 23 runs to take the first two games of that series, and eventually finished 5-1 against the Brewers in the season series.
Minnesota’s 14-2 interleague mark matched Boston’s for the best in the majors in 2006, and helped the Twins rally to finish 96-66 and overtake Detroit for the AL Central title.
Based on Friday’s series opener, Minnesota (19-22) could be ready to make a similar run. The Twins, who had dropped seven of their previous eight games while scoring three runs or fewer six times in that span, plated five runs in the third inning—four on a Torii Hunter grand slam—en route to an 8-1 victory.
Third baseman Jeff Cirillo, who played for Milwaukee (26-16) the last two seasons before signing with Minnesota in December, added a two-run homer and a triple in his return to Miller Park.
“This is (Cirillo’s) ballpark,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He proved it. He had a good ballgame here. I didn’t think Jeff Cirillo could get a triple. It was a very good night for him and I know he’s excited about the way he was able to play.”
The Twins have now scored eight runs or more in four straight games against the Brewers, who they have outscored 60-26 in seven meetings since the start of last season.
The Brewers mustered only three hits against Minnesota starter Boof Bonser and two relievers, and have scored nine total runs in their last four contests.
“(Bonser) threw a pretty good game,” Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. “But I don’t think we’re swinging the bats the way we’re capable.”
Milwaukee has been outscored 46-15 while losing its last six interleague games—four of them against the Twins. The Brewers have also dropped five of their last six overall, although they still hold a 5 1/2-game lead over second-place Houston in the NL Central.
Dave Bush (3-3, 5.47 ERA) will get the ball to try and stop Milwaukee’s slide. The right-hander has lowered his ERA in each of his last three starts, but is only 1-1 in that span. He allowed two runs over 5 1-3 innings and left with a two-run lead at Philadelphia on Monday, but did not receive a decision after the Phillies rallied for six runs in the eighth to beat the Brewers 8-6.
Bush is 0-2 with a 3.55 ERA against the Twins in two starts, both of which came in 2005, when he pitched for Toronto.
Minnesota recalled right-hander Scott Baker from Triple-A Rochester after Friday night’s game to make his season debut in this contest. Baker is taking the rotation spot of Sidney Ponson, whom the Twins designated for assignment after he went 2-5 with a 6.93 ERA in seven starts.
Baker has made 26 appearances—25 starts—for the Twins over the last two seasons, compiling an 8-11 record and 5.19 ERA. He was 3-2 with a 3.16 ERA in seven games, including six starts, for Rochester.
He won at Milwaukee last May 20, when he gave up four runs in five innings of Minnesota’s 16-10 victory.
Brewers second baseman and leadoff man Rickie Weeks, who has missed the last two games with a sore wrist, was examined by the team physician Friday and is not expected to return in this series. Tony Graffanino started in his place Saturday and went 0-for-3 with a strikeout.