Just as the baseball season begins heating up in mid June, teams find themselves playing more unfamiliar foes from the opposite league. And if your a Twins fan, interleague play has always brought good success, and sometimes has sparked a season in the right direction. But, if you take a look at the schedule after the Twins finish their series with the Padres, you have to wonder if they can have that same success.
Under manager Ron Gardenhire, the Twins have posted a 100-62 (.617 win pct.) record in interleague play. Only two of the previous 9 seasons have his teams with losing records when playing the National League. This year, however, the Twins were swept in late May at Arizona and including last nights win are off to a 1-3 start against the NL. And it doesn't get better from here.
Following Sunday's finale for the Twins-Padres series, the Twins go on the road to San Francisco (39-31, 1st place in NL West) and Milwaukee (39-32, 1st place in the NL Central). Both teams are considerably better teams when playing at home. Then the Twins return home to face the Dodgers (31-40, 4th place in NL West) and Milwaukee again to close out their interleague schedule.
San Francisco boasts one of, if not the best pitching staffs in all of baseball. And they play in a more pitcher friendly park, which makes it favorable for them. And the key for the Twins in these series is to continue the success of their starting pitching. In the month of June, Twins starters have gone 10-3 with a 2.11 ERA while averaging almost 7 innings pitched per start. This pitching will be more needed against the red hot Brewers, who boast one of the best offenses in baseball. If they can hold the Brew Crew to 4 runs or less per game, the Twins have a chance to win their series.
And since June 1st, the Twins have gotten hot. They have cut their AL Central deficit in half. But if they wish to continue to cut into that deficit, they'll have to do it against some of the National League's best teams. And lets hope they can continue their winning ways against the NL. Because it will be crucial to their trip up the standings...