After closing out a three-game series against the Washington Nationals with a 6-3 victory Sunday, the Twins (31-31) opened their three-game set with the Braves (35-30) with a 7-3 win on Tuesday.
The two victories came after a 1-6 stretch for Minnesota, which is 2-2 on its nine-game homestand. Following a five-game stretch in which the Twins totaled only nine runs, they have scored 27 over their last five contests while batting .378 (17-for-45) with runners in scoring position. They went 6-for-12 in RBI situations against Atlanta on Tuesday.
Second baseman Luis Castillo, a 12-year veteran, had three hits to raise his batting average to .337 and drove in two runs.
“He’s been a great player in this league for a long time,” said teammate Mike Redmond, who also played with Castillo in Florida from 1998-2004. “If you need a guy to make a great play or you need a guy to get on base, he’s the best I’ve ever seen.”
Minnesota may need its offense to continue clicking with slumping Carlos Silva (3-7, 4.58 ERA) on the mound.
After going 2-1 with a 3.10 ERA in five April outings, Silva is gone 1-6 with a 5.62 ERA in seven starts since the beginning of May. On Friday, the right-hander allowed seven runs and nine hits in three innings of an 8-5 loss to the Nationals.
“It was just one of those days,” Silva told the Twins’ official Web site. “I wasn’t feeling too comfortable today.”
Silva has never started against the Braves and has not faced them at all since he was pitching for Philadelphia in 2003. He is 1-0 with a 2.88 ERA in 16 relief appearances versus Atlanta.
The Braves counter with Chuck James (5-5, 3.66), who has limited opponents to two or fewer earned runs in six of his last seven outings, although he has just a 2-3 record in that span to show for his efforts.
James has received a total of just three runs in support in his five defeats.
“I pitched good. He pitched a little bit better,” said James, who has never faced the Twins. “That’s the way it goes sometimes. I’ll take seven innings, two runs any day.”
Atlanta has lost seven of its last 10 games, with its starting rotation posting a 7.46 ERA in that span. Despite the slump, the Braves trail the New York Mets - losers of four straight - by only two games in the NL East.