Today we spotlight a great matchup in each league before the focus turns to interleague baseball this weekend.
Minnesota Twins at Boston Red Sox
Minnesota is 2-4 on its current road trip, after dropping Wednesday night’s game, 3-2, to the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. The Twins now have a 6-7 record against the American League East, their only losing record against a division this season (15-8 vs. Central, 3-1 vs. West). Ending the current road trip in winning fashion may prove difficult, with the team now having lost six straight games at Fenway Park to the Red Sox. However, they do find themselves in a favorable position on Thursday, facing a left-handed starter. The Twins are 9-3 (+620) versus southpaws during the 2010 season and the opposing starter has yet to pick up a career win against them in his career. Minnesota is batting .295 overall against left-handers – good for second in the majors to only the New York Yankees. C Joe Mauer (.390) and Justin Morneau (.382) lead the way in that category.
Twins SP Francisco Liriano seeks to improve his 2-1 record and 3.00 ERA on the road this season. The left-hander has been impressive all-around this season, tallying more strikeouts (46) than hits allowed, while not allowing a home run. Minnesota fans must hope that he turns the corner against the Red Sox, with a 1-2 record and 7.20 ERA in three career starts against them. In his only start at Fenway Park, he lasted just four innings, allowing seven earned runs and issuing four free passes. Six of his first seven outings this year have been deemed quality starts, with the Twins picking up a 5-2 record (+160).
Boston continues to navigate through a gauntlet of a schedule, as they will finish this short two-game series and fly off to face the two-time defending NL-Champs for a weekend series. The Red Sox have played 16 games against teams with a .600 winning percentage or better, second-most in the league (BAL), producing a 5-11 record. The home run has led the way offensively of late, with the team homering in 14 of their last 19 games. Recently, DH David Ortiz has led the power charge, homering four times in his last six games. Boston has won 11 of the last 15 matchups at Fenway Park and holds a decisive 162-119 overall record at the Park over Minnesota.
Red Sox SP Jon Lester is 3-2 with a 3.91 ERA in his first eight starts of the season. The left-hander has never beaten today’s opponent, going 0-2 with a 5.96 ERA in five games (four starts). One of those games happened to be his first road start of the season, dropping that contest 5-2. He managed to last just five innings, while allowing a season-high nine hits. After allowing 15 earned runs in his first 16 innings of work this season, the Tacoma, Washington native has certainly turned things around. Over his last five starts, Lester is 3-0 with an AL-high 30 strikeouts. He ranks fourth in the league with a 1.82 ERA over that time period. Boston is 4-4 overall in his eight starts this season (-180).
A high-profile pitching matchup has resulted in a posted total of 8.5, which may offer value with both team’s having great success against left-handed starters. Boston is averaging 6.4 runs per game against southpaws, while the Twins tally 4.5. The Over is also 14-9 in Red Sox home games overall and an even 10-10 for the Twins away from Target Field.
One final trend that can’t be ignored out of the Minnesota dugout, the Twins have yet to have a losing streak of more than two games this season. They are also 11-4 in their last 15 games following a loss.
San Diego Padres at Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego’s offense carried the load on Wednesday night, posting a 10-5 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers to open its current road trip. It was just the third time this season that the Padres have scored in double-digits, coming at a surprising time after tallying just 13 runs in their previous five-game homestand. The team also gained revenge from a previous series that found the Dodgers gaining a three-game sweep at Petco Park earlier this month (5/14-5/16). Overall, the Friars have produced a 13-10 record (+430) against divisional opponents so far in 2010. It’s also important to point out that the Padres have also won eight of their last nine road games, dating back to a 4/27 victory at Florida.
SP Kevin Correia prepares to make his eighth start of the season, including his fourth on the road. The right-hander has tallied a 2-1 record and 5.40 ERA in his previous three starts away from Petco Park (+120). His road ERA is nearly two runs higher than what he’s been able to produce at home (3.57). The 29-year-old is also making his second start against the Dodgers this season, as he faced them on Saturday. He allowed four runs and five hits over just 5.1 innings of work. The bullpen has been a huge factor in helping the team produce a 4-3 record in Correia’s starts (+130), as he’s failed to pitch past the sixth inning in all starts.
Los Angeles is still the hottest team in baseball despite the opening game loss in this series, having won 11 of their last 13 games. The nine-game winning streak allowed the team to gain four games in the division against the Padres, as they currently sit two games back. The Dodgers have dominated in divisional games this season, posting a 12-4 record (+780). OF Manny Ramirez’ status is uncertain for this contest, after being scratched from Wednesday’s starting lineup due to an injured left foot. He’s tallied seven RBIs in 10 games following a stint on the DL and his importance of being in the lineup is heightened with the team’s best hitter this season, Andre Ethier, nursing a hand problem. The Dodgers have a great chance in picking up a series split, carrying a 20-7 record in their last 27 home games versus a right-handed starter.
Dodgers SP Clayton Kershaw picked up a second-straight victory on Saturday at San Diego, allowing just one run and three hits over seven innings. He is 3-2 with a 2.76 ERA in eight career starts against the Padres (-150). Walks have proven to be problematic for the young left-hander, as he’s tied for the NL lead by issuing 29 free passes. Left-handed batters have managed to hit just .201 against him in his career, highlighted for this matchup in holding San Diego slugger Adrian Gonzalez to a .105 average (2-for-19).
Bettors are going to have a hard time mustering up confidence to play either side in tonight’s ball game. San Diego has produced an 8-1 record in Correia’s last nine road starts, while the Dodgers have been a dominating 33-12 in May the last two seasons (+2,005).
After the two teams combined to go under the number in all three meetings at Petco Park last weekend, it’s not out of the question for the team’s to reverse this trend at Dodger Stadium. Including last night’s offensive display, the Over is 10-4 in the last 14 meetings at Dodger Stadium.