Elbow tendinitis forced Slowey’s latest start to be pushed back four days, but the right-hander is set to return Sunday as he tries to continue Minnesota’s dominant starting pitching at Target Field by completing a three-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics.
The series began with a solid effort from Carl Pavano(notes) in the Twins’ 4-3 win Friday, but Brian Duensing(notes) was even better Saturday. The left-hander held Oakland to three singles while completing the 2-0 victory, lowering the ERA of Minnesota’s rotation to 1.05 during its six-game win streak at Target Field.
“We like to have too much pitching,” manager Rod Gardenhire said.
Combined with Chicago’s 3-2 loss to Detroit, the Twins are now two games ahead of the second-place White Sox in the AL Central.
It’s up to Slowey (10-5, 4.45 ERA) to help Minnesota (67-50) win seven in a row in its new stadium for the first time. He’s 6-3 with a 3.73 ERA at home, and he held Seattle to three hits over eight innings in a 4-0 win there July 31.
His next start came Aug. 5 at Tampa Bay as he gave up four runs over 7 2-3 innings - striking out nine - before leaving without a decision in an 8-6 victory. But Slowey didn’t make his scheduled start Wednesday against the White Sox after developing soreness in his pitching elbow.
Slowey threw a bullpen session Thursday, though, and Gardenhire pronounced him good to go.
That appears to be bad news for Oakland (57-58). Slowey hasn’t faced the A’s since 2008, but he’s 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA in three starts against them, striking out 22 in 13 innings over his last two.
That could spell a long day for an Oakland team which has been held to nine runs during a 1-4 slump. That stretch coincides with Chris Carter’s call-up from the minors, and the highly touted prospect is 0 for 16 with seven strikeouts.
Vin Mazzaro(notes) (6-4, 3.46) was on the mound against Seattle for Carter’s first game Monday, a 3-1 loss in which he held the Mariners to three runs and five hits over seven innings. He allowed one run and two hits after the first, however.
“… I was able to settle down, and I got into a groove,” Mazzaro told the A’s official website. “I made my pitches when I had to, just came up a little short.”
This will be the right-hander’s first start against the Twins, but the A’s should be in good shape if it’s anything like the rest of his experiences against the AL Central. Mazzaro is 3-0 with a 1.85 ERA in six games - four starts - versus Minnesota’s division rivals.
Then again, facing the Twins isn’t usually much fun for right-handers. Minnesota is hitting a major league-best .317 against righties since the All-Star break, 33 points higher than second-place Toronto.