Phillies-Twins Preview

The Associated Press

The Philadelphia Phillies have hit a rough spot after their best stretch of the season.

So have the Minnesota Twins.

Cole Hamels will try to build on his first victory in more than five weeks Tuesday night when the Phillies and Twins open their three-game series in Minneapolis.

After a five-game winning streak helped the club move above .500 for the first time in 2013, Philadelphia (31-33) dropped its final three games at lowly Milwaukee over the weekend.

"We've got to stay up and just keep playing," manager Charlie Manuel said after Sunday's 9-1 defeat. "We'll see if we can't take it out on Minnesota.''

Hamels (2-9, 4.56 ERA) gets the ball in the opener after ending a career-worst six-start losing streak with a season-high 11 strikeouts in Wednesday's 6-1 victory over Miami. The left-hander gave up one run and four hits in seven innings for his first win since April 28.

"I was trying to be too fine, trying to make perfect pitches,'' Hamels said of his previous struggles.

The former World Series MVP was anything but perfect in his only career start at Target Field, a 9-8 victory June 13 when he was charged with a season-high seven runs in six-plus innings.

He earned the win, though, as the Phillies plated six first-inning runs - including four off Tuesday's starter, P.J. Walters (2-1, 3.00). The right-hander lasted just 15 pitches and did not record an out due to stiffness in his throwing shoulder that would land him on the DL the following day.

Walters is now set to make his fourth start since getting called up to replace former Phillie Vance Worley. Walters went six innings in Wednesday's 4-1 loss at Kansas City, allowing three unearned runs following a first-inning throwing error by Pedro Florimon.

"Earned or not, they're still my runs,'' Walters said.

He's not the only Twins pitcher that's had to deal with shoddy defense, as Minnesota has committed four errors during its 1-4 skid after being charged with one during its previous 15 games.

The Twins' offense also needs work after going 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position and totaling four runs while being swept in a doubleheader at Washington on Sunday. Minnesota is 4 for 50 (.080) with runners in scoring position over the last five games.

"We thought we hit it better than the runs out on the board, but it didn't come out that way," manager Ron Gardenhire told the club's official website.

Minnesota (27-33) now goes for its fifth win in six home games as it begins a stretch of nine straight at Target Field.

Center fielder Ben Revere will make his return to Minnesota after getting traded to Philadelphia in December in the Worley deal. Revere has been a disappointment with the Phillies, hitting .244 with a .562 OPS that's among the worst of all qualifying players.

Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks (.575 OPS) hasn't been much better, and he's on the DL after suffering a hamstring injury in Sunday's nightcap. Journeyman Clete Thomas filled in and could be in center Tuesday, though Minnesota also will recall outfielder Oswaldo Arcia from Triple-A Rochester.

The Phillies had to put catcher Eric Kratz on the 15-day DL with a left knee injury suffered Saturday, so Humberto Quintero is expected to be behind the plate Tuesday.

Quintero went deep Sunday to extend the Phillies' home run streak to 14 straight games - their longest such run since an 18-game stretch in 2008. Domonic Brown, the NL home run leader with 19, has 10 of his team's 24 in that stretch.

The Phillies totaled 22 runs while taking two of three at Target Field last June 12-14.

What to Read Next