Twins @ Mets Series Preview

After taking two of three from the NY Yankees in a hard-fought series, the Mets' 13-game homestand does not get any easier as they welcome the AL Central leading Minnesota Twins (39-30) to town for three games. Both the Twins and the Mets have had mild success this season in interleague play, each sporting a 5-4 record and each coming off series wins this past weekend. At 34-34 and 6.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves, the Mets hope to build on their "not so impressive" 16-14 home record.

Perhaps evoking some revenge on Clemens Saturday with an 8-0 rout of the Yankees, combined with Mo Vaughn's dramatic 8th inning/game-winning home run on Sunday, has woken up the Mets' offense that has infamously been lackluster all season. Ranking 7th in the American League in team ERA, the Twins are not a team that will shut you down often. In fact, the Twins are dead last in shut outs this season with ONE! As you will see below, the key for the Mets is to get to Twins' starters early and often. The Twins have one of the best bullpens in all of baseball.

Pitching Matchups

In the series opener Tuesday, RHP Jeff D'Amico (4-5, 4.04 ERA) will face LHP Johan Santana (1-1, 4.11 ERA). Santana will be making just his third start of the season but has pitched well. His two previous starts came in interleague play. He struck out 8 Marlins in a 12-7 win on June 7th and also struck out 8 batters in 4+ innings in a losing effort against the Braves. He gave up a combined three runs in 10 innings in those two starts.

D'Amico has been a hot/cold pitcher, alternating good starts with bad ones. The good news for Mets' fans is D'Amico is coming off a horrific start against the White Sox where he surrendered 7 earned runs in 3 1/3 innings in a 10-8 loss to Chicago...easily his worst outing of the season.

On Wednesday, Al Leiter (6-6, 3.23 ERA) looks to make his third straight quality start. Leiter took the 2-1 loss against the White Sox last Wednesday despite a strong outing. Al has given up just four earned runs in his last 14 2/3 innings after getting torched for seven runs by the Marlins on June 2nd.

Opposing Leiter will be Twins' RHP Matt Kinney (2-5, 4.71 ERA). Kinney will be making his first start in over a week. His last start was on June 8th in a 5-3 Twins' victory over the Florida Marlins in which he gave up three runs in five innings.

The Twins send struggling LHP Eric Milton (8-5, ERA) to the mound to take on Steve Trachsel (4-6, 3.68 ERA) in the series finale Thursday. Despite a solid effort against the Brewers on Saturday (8 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 8 SO), Milton has given up 19 earned runs in his last 24 1/3 innings pitched.

Trachsel was awesome in Friday's 4-2 loss to the Yankees, holding the Bombers scoreless for 5 2/3 innings. He has been pretty good in interleague play, picking up the win on June 8th against the Cleveland Indians.

A Closer Look

While serviceable, the Twins have had their share of problems in the rotation. Eric Milton does have 8 wins so far this season but has been getting a ton of run support. He would have to be to tally eight wins despite a 5.50 ERA. Brad Radke, their staff ace, has been on the DL since May 31st with a strained groin but he wasn't pitching that well prior to this DL stint (4-2 in 10 starts with a 5.23 ERA). Joe Mays, a 17-game winner last season, has pitched in just three games this season. He has been on the 60-day DL with a sore right elbow and is not expected to be back until the All-Star break. And to top it off, former Met Rick Reed (6-3, 4.90 ERA), will miss his scheduled start against the Mets with a cut on his thumb opening a suitcase.

While the rotation has been struggling, their bullpen has been terrific this season. "Everyday" Eddie Guardado is having a career year as the closer for the Twins, 20-22 in save opportunities with just 6 walks in 33 2/3 innings this season. Last year's closer and this year's setup man, LaTroy Hawkins, has flourished in his new role. Hawkins enters this series with a miniscule 1.51 ERA and has allowed less than one baserunner per inning pitched this season. Like Guardado, Hawkins does not give up the free pass, allowing just 7 walks in 41 2/3 innings. RHP Tony Fiore has 5 wins out of the bullpen this season and has given up just four earned runs (2.25 ERA). But the gem of the bullpen has to be LHP J.C. Romero. Romero has given up just 3 earned runs this season IN 39 2/3 innings (0.68 ERA)!!!


After coming off the DL on June 4th and having a career high four hits, Twins' 2B Luis Rivas has had 8 hits in the 12 games since and has only one hit in his last 14 at-bats....Despite having 15 home runs this season, OF Torii Hunter has had a power outage as of late, hitting just one home run in his last 17 games....Like Hunter, OF Jacques Jones is struggling as of late with the longball. He has just one home run in his last 12 games but is hitting .385 (20-52) with 7 doubles in those 12 games. 3B Corey Koskie is just 11 for his last 58 (.190) but has drawn 11 walks in his last 17 games....SS Christian Guzman, who has stolen at least 25 bases in each of the last two seasons, has just 5 so far this season and has been caught 7 times.

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