Tuesday MLB Preview – Twins at Rangers

American League division leaders square off in the second game of a crucial series at the Ballpark in Arlington.

Minnesota Twins at Texas Rangers

Minnesota was nearly no-hit in a 4-0 road loss to the Rangers at the Ballpark in Arlington last night, but the team has still won eight of 11 and 21 of 28 games.  The Twins carry a 4 1/2-game lead into tonight’s contest and hopes for a better offensive performance in the second game of the series, as they were one-hit for the 24th time in club history on Monday. “You definitely don’t want to get no-hit,” All-Star catcher Joe Mauer said.  “It’s nice to get a hit up there but we want runs.”  The club is now 17-7 against the AL West division and will look to improve upon its 11-7 mark on Tuesdays this evening.  The staff ERA of 2.76 against the division is the lowest of any American League team and the team was 19-21 versus the division in 2009.  Minnesota is a solid 14-7 in August (+610) and the total is 10-11 O/U in those contests.  The Twins have played six games after being shutout this season, posting an even 3-3 mark (-210) and a 9-9 record over the last three years (-160).

Twins starting pitcher Carl Pavano is 15-8 with a 3.52 ERA in 25 starts this season and is coming off one of his worst career starts.  In his last outing, he allowed seven runs and a season-high 15 hits in six innings, while the club dropped an 11-0 home contest to the White Sox.  The right-hander is 8-4 with a 3.13 ERA in 13 road starts, issuing just 16 walks and collecting 53 punch outs in 92 frames.  He has produced a 5-2 record and 3.35 ERA in seven second half starts, after compiling a 10-6 mark and 3.58 ERA before the All-Star break.  In four lifetime starts versus the Rangers, Pavano is 1-2 with a 9.00 ERA, but picked up an 8-3 home victory on May 29th against them.  He allowed two runs and seven hits over seven innings in that contest.

Texas moved its division lead to 8 1/2 games with a victory in the series opener and the club is well on its way to a division title with just over six weeks remaining in the season.  The team has also bounced back nicely from a four-game skid by winning three of its last four games overall.  The Rangers are 3-3 after shutting out an opponent this season (-50) and 10-15 in this situation over the last three campaigns (-510).  It’s also important to note that the club is a dominating 40-23 in Arlington (+20) and the total is 29-30 O/U in those games.  Texas has improved its performance against winning ball clubs since the All-Star break, producing a 16-10 record (+480), but is still just 24-27 on the season (-750).

Rangers starting pitcher Colby Lewis is 9-10 with a 3.37 ERA in 24 starts this season, but the team has dropped six consecutive games with him on the hill.  In those outings, the offense has managed to provide just seven runs of support.  The right-hander is 0-3 with a 3.20 ERA in four starts this month, giving up just a single home run while striking out 29 batters and issuing just seven walks.  He will be making his 11th home start, compiling a 5-3 record and 2.95 ERA compared to a losing 4-7 record and 3.66 ERA on the road.  In six career appearances (two starts) against the Twins, Lewis is a winless 0-2 with a 4.40 ERA, issuing 10 walks and collecting just six strikeouts.

Bettors will need to know that the Twins are 7-1 in Pavano’s last eight road starts and 7-3 in his last 10 starts as an underdog away from the Twin Cities.  On the other side of the field, Texas is 5-1 in its last six home games versus a right-handed starter.

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