Manager Ron Gardenhire thinks his Minnesota Twins are built more like an National League team than an American League one.
The Twins will get a chance to play under NL rules when they open a three-game series with the struggling New York Mets on Monday night at Shea Stadium.
Minnesota (34-33) has won nine of its last 12 interleague road games.
Gardenhire, who played his entire big-league career for New York from 1981-85, said that playing without a designated hitter against the Mets (37-30) and later this week in Florida won’t be a problem for his team.
“It hurts some teams more than others, but our DH slot is something that we kind of mix and match because we don’t have that one big guy,” he told the Twins’ official team Web site. “With some teams, that’s a big problem.”
The Twins swept the Mets in three games in Minnesota June 8-10, 2004 in the last meeting between the teams. New York won two of three at Shea from June 18-20, 2002, in the clubs’ only other series.
Minnesota ranks 12th in the American League with just 54 homers and 10th with 311 runs. But reigning AL MVP Justin Morneau gave Minnesota a rare jolt of power Sunday, connecting for his third walk-off homer of the season and 20th overall to lift the Twins to a 10-9 victory over Milwaukee and avoid a three-game sweep.
The shot bailed out Minnesota, which blew a 9-2 lead after five innings.
“Holy cow,” Gardenhire said. “It doesn’t matter how you win ‘em, they just win ‘em.”
The Twins’ lineup was dealt a blow when Torii Hunter, who is hitting .307 with 14 homers, left the game after being hit by a pitch in the first inning. Hunter, who did not need X-rays, was listed as day-to-day but said that he planned to play on Monday.
The Mets lost their fifth straight series this weekend, dropping two of three to their crosstown rivals, the New York Yankees. The Mets have lost 11 of their last 13 games, including Sunday’s 8-2 defeat, but are clinging to a 1 1/2-game lead in the NL East.
“If we had an explanation, we would have fixed it by now,” slugger Carlos Delgado said. “It’s not an excuse, but we haven’t been playing the Bad News Bears. We’ve been playing some pretty good teams playing pretty good baseball.”
John Maine (6-4, 3.05 ERA) will look to help the Mets bounce back in the opener. Maine, who is 1-4 with a 4.72 ERA in his last six starts, gave up four runs in 5 1-3 innings and allowed three straight homers on consecutive pitches in Tuesday’s 4-1 loss at Dodger Stadium.
His only previous start against the Twins came on July 23, 2004 while with Baltimore, when he allowed four runs in 3 2-3 innings of a 7-3 home loss.
Minnesota will counter with Carlos Silva (4-7, 4.07), who bounced back from his worst outing of the season to throw a 6-0 eight-hitter against Atlanta on Wednesday. Silva was pitching a day after the birth of his son and five days after he allowed seven runs in three innings in an 8-5 loss to Washington on June 8,
Silva had gone 1-6 with a 5.62 ERA in his previous seven starts before Wednesday, but had received an average of just 1.51 runs of support over that span. He bounced back with Minnesota’s first complete game shutout since Johan Santana blanked the Oakland Athletics on Aug. 12, 2005.
The right-hander has never received a decision in 15 career relief appearances against the Mets, but he owns a gaudy 10.22 ERA against them. However, he has not pitched against New York since 2003 while with Philadelphia.