The Twins had a fantastic game yesterday, as Jason Kubel homered twice, Denard Span and Justin Morneau each homered once, and Scott Baker set a career-high (and season high for the team) with 10 strikeouts. Span, Joe Mauer, Morneau, and Kubel combined to get on base 15 of 20 times, hit four homers, score all 11 runs, and pick up 10 RBIs; unfortunately, that also gives you an idea of how the rest of the lineup performed.
Now they head back on the road, where they have been the worst team in the Majors to this point of the season. They'll play a 3-game set with the Mariners this weekend and stay on the West Coast for 4 games against Oakland, before heading to Chicago to resume interleague play against the Cubs. It'll be their first trip west with the subsequent late start times, especially here in Massachusetts.
The Twins have already played two series with the Mariners this year and are 4-3, having outscored them 36-29 in the seven games. The pitching matchup in the first game will be Francisco Liriano versus Felix Hernandez, the third time already this season that they will pitch opposite one another, including the first game of the season for both teams. In that one, Hernandez outdueled Liriano, who gave up 4 runs in 7 innings, but only gave up 4 hits and no walks. The next one was much less of a pitchers' duel, with Liriano getting the win despite giving up 5 runs in 5 innings.
On Saturday, it will be Nick Blackburn facing off against Jarrod Washburn and on Sunday Kevin Slowey against Erik Bedard. Blackburn has a nice 3.00 ERA in two starts against the Mariners this year but, like his season as a whole, a very weak 7:4 K:BB ratio. Slowey has only one career start against the Mariners earlier this year, and he gave up 5 runs in 6 innings.
So which hitters have been good against the Mariners? It's no surprise that Joe Mauer has been the best hitter against them, but his 1.169 OPS ranks as his highest against any American League team. Jason Kubel has also been best against the Mariners, posting a .383 average and 1.017 OPS versus Seattle. And Brendan Harris's highest OPS in an AL ballpark is in Safeco Field (1.025).
Carlos Gomez and Joe Crede have been particularly bad when playing Seattle, racking up an OPS of .477 and .621 respectively. While Gomez's is much worse, it's actually better than against four other AL teams (he's worst versus the Twins, but in only six at bats). Crede's, meanwhile, ranks third-to-last among opposing AL teams. He's been particularly bad at Safeco, with an OPS of just .497. The obvious counter, of course, is sample size, and Crede's BABIP of .207 and Gomez's BABIP of .219 scream in support of this.
In the end it's nothing more than an interesting look at who's played well in the past and isn't meant to be/shouldn't be used as a predictor of how they will do in this series.
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