Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire credits a series win over Milwaukee for sparking a nine-game winning streak. The Brewers, meanwhile, have more than held their own since.
The Twins, with a chance to move into first place in the AL Central, look to extend their longest winning streak in two years when they face the Brewers in the opener of a three-game interleague series Friday night.
Minnesota’s winning streak is its longest since an 11-game run from June 22-July 3, 2006, and it has brought it within one-half game of the Chicago White Sox for the AL Central lead.
Sweeps of Washington, Arizona, and San Diego have helped the Twins (43-36) gain six games in the standings. Prior to this run, Minnesota won two of three against Milwaukee (43-35) from June 13-15. It’s a series that Gardenhire says helped the Twins get rolling.
“We’ve played really good baseball since then,” he said.
Minnesota has been dominant during its run, outscoring its opponents 56-19 while its starters have gone 8-0 with a 2.17 ERA. A 4-3 win over the Padres on Thursday improved the Twins’ interleague record to 12-3.
“It seems like it’s somebody different every game coming up with that big hit,” said Minnesota first baseman Justin Morneau said. “We don’t usually do it too flashy but it seems like we find a way to get it done. It’s fun to watch.”
Morneau has hit safely in 17 straight games against the Brewers, batting .344 (22-for-64) with four home runs, five doubles, a triple and 16 RBIs during that stretch. He went 4-for-13 (.308) with four RBIs in Minnesota’s series against Milwaukee two weeks ago.
The Brewers lost five of eight before winning the finale of that series 4-2, and have been playing well since. Milwaukee won eight of nine before losing 4-2 to Atlanta on Wednesday, missing a chance at a three-game sweep.
“We’ll take two of three here,” Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun said told the team’s official Web site.
Milwaukee, which has a 2.66 ERA in its last five games, will now hand the ball to Seth McClung (5-3, 3.79 ERA). He is 3-1 with a 2.55 ERA in fours starts this month.
The right-hander allowed two runs and three hits while striking out six in 6 2-3 innings to earn a win as Milwaukee beat Baltimore 3-2 on Saturday night.
McClung is 2-0 with a 3.14 ERA in two starts and one relief appearance in interleague play this season, his first in the NL. He pitched six innings en route to picking up a win against the Twins on June 15, surrendering two runs and three hits.
McClung is 1-2 with a 7.53 ERA in three starts and one relief appearance versus the Twins.
Minnesota will counter with Nick Blackburn (6-4, 3.68), who has given up two earned runs or less in six of his last seven starts.
The right-hander allowed one run and three hits in seven innings to earn a win as Minnesota beat Arizona 6-1 on Saturday night. He improved to 4-2 with a 2.20 ERA in seven home starts.
It was also his second win in as many interleague starts, posting a 1.93 ERA. This will be his first appearance against Milwaukee.