Friday, August 30, 2013
W2W4: Rangers vs. Twins
By Todd Wills
Texas Rangers (78-55, 1st place/AL West) vs. Minnesota Twins (57-75, 4th place/AL Central)
Friday: RHP Yu Darvish (12-5, 2.68) vs. RHP Liam Hendriks (0-2, 6.20), 7:05 p.m.
Saturday: RHP Matt Garza (9-3, 3.69) vs. RHP Mike Pelfrey (5-10, 5.06), 7:05 p.m.
Sunday: LHP Travis Blackley (2-1, 4.80) vs. RHP Kevin Correia (8-10, 4.32), 2:05 p.m.
Here's what to watch for in this season's final series between Texas and Minnesota:
Struggling Twins: The Twins arrive in Arlington with a five-game losing streak after falling to Kansas City 3-1 on Thursday as the Royals completed a three-game sweep of their division rivals. Minnesota has scored six runs in their past five games, including scoring only one single run in four straight games. The Rangers haven't allowed more than five runs in 25 consecutive games, the first time an American League team has done that since Kansas City in 1980.
First time in Texas: The Rangers and Twins match up for the first time since late April in Minnesota when the teams split a four-game series at Target Field. Texas won the first two games, but scored two runs in two losses over the weekend, including being shutout 5-0 by Sunday starter Kevin Correia, who allowed six hits in eight innings. The Rangers are 10-4 against the Twins since the start of 2010.
No Mauer: Twins All-Star catcher Joe Mauer met with the media for the first time on Thursday after sustaining a concussion on Aug. 18 after he got hit in the facemask with foul tip. The six-time All-Star plans on returning sometime in September, but he won't make the road trip this weekend. Mauer has hit only .229 for his career against Texas, but he does have five of his seven lifetime home runs against them at Rangers Ballpark. Ryan Doumit is handling the main catching duties in Mauer's absence.
What about Willingham?: Will Twins outfielder Josh Willingham be in the Minnesota lineup on Friday night? Willingham was claimed off waivers by Baltimore on Wednesday, and the Twins and Orioles had until 11 a.m. CT Friday to work out a deal or Minnesota could pull him off waivers. The Twins also could decide to let the Orioles take the 34-year-old Willingham and pay him the remaining $1.35 million of his salary this season, but that is thought to be unlikely. The Rangers targeted Willingham as a possible replacement for Nelson Cruz, but the Twins outfielder was on the disabled list the month before the July 31 trade deadline. Baltimore had the ability to claim Willingham before Texas after he was placed on waivers this week.
Is this it for Gardy?: Twins manager Ron Gardenhire could be managing Minnesota for the final time in Arlington if he doesn't return to the club after this season. Gardenhire, who played in college for the University of Texas, doesn't have a contract for next season. Gardenhire, in his 12th season after taking over for the great Tom Kelly, will find another managing job if he and the Twins part ways after what so far is a 57-75 season and three non-competitive years. Gardenhire was ejected from Thursday's loss to Kansas City after a warning for Twins pitcher Samuel Deduno hitting a batter. It was the 66th time the always entertaining Gardenhire has been ejected, tying him for ninth place all-time among major league managers with Joe Torre.