Marlins-Twins Preview

The Associated Press

The Minnesota Twins and Miami Marlins both finished at the bottom of their respective divisions in 2012. While things appear to be looking up for the Twins, the Marlins may be even worse off.

Minnesota can match its longest winning streak from 2012 with a victory Monday night against Miami as the teams begin a two-game series at Target Field.

A 5-3 road win against the White Sox on Sunday gave the Twins (8-7) their fourth straight victory, putting them on the verge of equaling their five-game streak from June 30-July 3, 2012.

Josh Willingham - who has at least one RBI in each game during the streak - provided a big three-run double in Minnesota's four-run seventh inning. Before that, the struggling Aaron Hicks - 0 for 19 over his last seven games - had an RBI single to tie the score at 2.

"I'd put us up against anybody right now," starter Scott Diamond, who gave up two runs over six innings, told the team's official website. "I think we're playing pretty confidently. As long as we can execute our pitches and continue to work, I think we're gonna be better than everybody thinks we are."

Minnesota's pitching has been strong during the four-game run, compiling a 2.19 ERA while allowing 30 hits over the last 37 innings. Kevin Correia (1-1, 2.95 ERA) figures to give the staff a good shot to continue that trend, as he's gone at least seven innings in all three of his starts while limiting opponents to three earned runs or fewer.

Correia will have to overcome some past struggles against the Marlins, though. He's 3-4 with an 8.01 ERA in eight starts versus Miami.

Facing this Marlins lineup, however, may not prove to be particularly daunting. Miami (4-15) is off to its worst start in franchise history hampered by an abysmal offense, though Giancarlo Stanton finally recorded his first RBI in a 10-6 loss at Cincinnati on Sunday.

"It doesn't give any excuse to my terrible play before that," said Stanton, who was 4 of 18 with eight strikeouts in the four-game series against the Reds and is batting .188 overall. "I can only look forward. I could have hit left-handed and done as well."

Stanton's struggles are far from the only thing weighing down Miami's offense. The Marlins rank last in baseball in batting average (.212) and slugging percentage (.266) and are tied with the White Sox for the worst on-base percentage (.271). Their six home runs are also the fewest in the majors.

"We haven't hit well enough to overcome those mistakes," said manager Mike Redmond, who played for the Twins from 2005-09. "Hopefully, this gets Stanton something to build on."

Making the start for Miami will be Ricky Nolasco (0-2, 3.86), who has felt the brunt of the inept offense while getting 1.54 runs of support per nine innings.

Nolasco has never faced the Twins, while teammates Juan Pierre and Miguel Olivo are 8 of 19 and 6 of 10 off of Correia, respectively.

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