Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire thinks his club is well-constructed to take on National League foes, and the Twins’ performance in interleague play bears him out.
Minnesota (40-36) has pulled within 1 1/2 games of the first-place Chicago White Sox in the AL Central by winning six straight and eight of nine - all against NL opponents. They swept three-game sets from Washington and Arizona last week, finishing off the Diamondbacks with a 5-3 win Sunday to improve to 9-3 in interleague play this season.
The Twins entered this stretch having lost consecutive series to AL teams Baltimore, the White Sox and Cleveland. Minnesota hit .262 and averaged 3.7 runs in going 2-8 against those teams, but is batting .306 and averaging 6.8 runs over the last nine games.
“We kind of match up a little better,” Gardenhire told the Twins’ official Web site of his team’s success in interleague play. “We are a team that can bunt, we are a team that can scratch out runs, we don’t rely on the big home runs. So we kind of can play National League baseball.”
Minnesota hasn’t won seven straight since an 11-game run June 22-July 3, 2006.
The Twins will look to keep rolling when they face Peavy (5-4, 2.88 ERA) on Tuesday. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner is making his third start since a nearly month-long stint on the disabled list with a strained elbow.
Peavy has split his first two starts since returning. He pitched just four innings Wednesday against the New York Yankees, allowing four runs and six hits in an 8-5 loss.
The right-hander threw 93 pitches after needing just 72 to get through six scoreless innings in his previous start.
“His stuff was good,” manager Bud Black said. “His velocity was there. A hard slider and throwing the ball around the plate. … He came out of it healthy. His elbow is fine.”
Peavy has a 1.26 ERA in six home starts this season, going 3-2. His only career start against the Twins came at home on June 6, 2003, when he gave up three runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 7-5, 11-inning defeat.
The Padres (32-45) will look to their ace to help them snap out of a slump. They’ve lost six of seven after dropping two of three over the weekend to Detroit.
That series opened a nine-game interleague homestand for the Padres, who are 3-9 against the AL. They’ll face Seattle after this series.
Minnesota’s Kevin Slowey (4-6, 4.37) takes the ball Tuesday looking to win his third straight start. He allowed one run and seven hits over six innings of an 11-2 victory over the Nationals on Wednesday.
The right-hander, 3-1 with a 3.48 ERA in five career interleague starts, will be facing the Padres for the first time.
Minnesota and San Diego have split six meetings, with the Twins winning two of three at Qualcomm Stadium from June 6-8, 2003.