Two of the league’s best fireballers take to the mound at Target Field in the series finale.
Colorado Rockies at Minnesota Twins
Colorado has dropped two straight games and eight of 13 to fall five games behind in the NL West, while also falling to an even 23-23 against right-handed pitchers. “If I had an answer, I’d be much more definitive, but I don’t,” manager Jim Tracy said. “But I can tell you there is an element of frustration because we’re a club that is still playing baseball a game over .500.” Despite last night’s 2-1 defeat, the Rockies have the best winning percentage in interleague play among National League teams since 2006. Colorado fanned 12 times against Minnesota SP Scott Baker, as they rank fifth in the NL in strikeouts. A bigger problem is a .215 team batting average with 59 strikeouts with two out and runners in scoring position.
Rockies SP Ubaldo Jimenez is enjoying a special season, posting a 12-1 record and 1.16 ERA in 13 starts. The right-hander has allowed just 57 hits over 93.1 innings of work, holding opposing batters to a .180 average. He is a brilliant 7-1 with a 0.76 ERA in eight starts away from Coors Field, allowing just a single home run in 59.1 innings. Jimenez may be slowing down a bit after allowing five runs in his last two starts, which includes issuing eight free passes over 13 frames. His only career start against Minnesota came back in 2008, picking up a 4-2 loss by giving up three runs and eight hits over seven innings of work.
Minnesota moved to 137-99 all-time in interleague play, ranking second in all of baseball behind the New York Yankees (138-98). The Twins are a dominating 58-22 since 2006 against the Senior Circuit. The pitching staff’s 3.93 ERA all-time interleague ERA ranks second behind only Seattle (3.77). Despite losing star closer Joe Nathan before the season, the bullpen has posted an AL-best 2.91 ERA, trailing only the San Diego Padres (2.54). Fill-in closer Joe Rauch’s 17 saves is good four fourth-most in the majors. The Twins picked up two nighttime victories to open the series, but will have to improve upon its daytime mark to complete the sweep (11-12, -540).
Twins SP Francisco Liriano is 6-3 with a 2.90 ERA in 12 starts this season, with 10 of those being quality outings. The left-hander has been dominating in June, posting a 1-0 record and 1.20 ERA in two starts while striking out 21 batters and walking just two in 15 innings. He is an even 2-2 with a 3.81 ERA in four daytime starts, as opposing batters are hitting .295 against him (.224 night). Liriano has made a smooth transition from the Metrodome to Target Field in 2010, going 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA in five home outings.
It hasn’t mattered who the Rockies’ Jimenez has matched up against this season, but bettors should be cautious with the team’s 11-26 mark the last three seasons on the road with a moneyline of -100 to -125 (-1,820). Colorado has posted a solid 15-9 mark during the day this season (+500). When the total is 7 or less in a game this season, Minnesota has lost both games (-200) and fell below the number as well.