The Minnesota Twins have won 11 of their last 12 interleague series, and with Kevin Slowey(notes) on the mound Sunday, the team feels good about its chances of taking the decisive game from the visiting Atlanta Braves.
The Twins’ red-hot right-hander may not have much margin for error, however, as the two first-place clubs finish a tightly contested three-game set.
Minnesota (36-26) has the best record of any major league team in interleague play since the start of 2008, going 29-12 in that stretch despite Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Braves.
Although the series is being played at Target Field, a lower-scoring NL style has prevailed, with each team totaling four runs and 14 hits. Another crisp game may take place with Slowey on the mound.
Slowey (7-3, 3.45 ERA) is 3-0 in his last five starts, allowing two runs over 20 2-3 innings spanning his last three outings. He gave up three hits without issuing a walk in seven scoreless innings during a 7-3 win over Kansas City on Tuesday.
“I’m being honest with you. … Every start is its own challenge,” Slowey said. “There’s no reason to combine starts and say, ‘I’ve had two good ones. This is important to have another good one.’”
In 12 career interleague starts, Slowey is 7-2 with a 3.04 ERA. The first was a win over the Braves on June 12, 2007.
Medlen (3-1, 3.21) gave up four runs - including three home runs - in five innings Tuesday at Arizona, although the Braves came back to win 7-5. Medlen left the game with a strained left shoulder that he injured on a slide while running the bases.
“It kind of felt weird coming out, because it was my left arm,” Medlen said, “but it hurt at the time.”
He’ll try to help Atlanta (36-27) to its first back-to-back victories since a nine-game winning streak from May 26-June 3. A win would also give the Braves their first series victory in an AL park in their last five tries.
It’s unclear if the Braves will have Chipper Jones(notes) in the lineup after the veteran third baseman was scratched Saturday due to a lingering finger injury. Conrad filled in with two hits and two RBIs.
“As much talent as he has, we still have to remember he is 20 years old,” hitting coach Terry Pendleton told the Braves’ official website. “Other teams are going to make adjustments, and he’s got to make adjustments.”