It’s warm and overcast as the Minnesota Twins prepare to open a three-game interleague series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. It’ll be righty Zack Godley (2.95 ERA, 3.17 FIP in 106.2 innings) going for the Diamondbacks, with Ervin Santana (3.28 ERA, 4.71 FIP in 156.1 innings) taking the ball for the Twins.
More on that in a bit.
This will be the first regular-season meeting between the Twins and Diamondbacks since Sept. 22-24, 2014 — also at Target Field. The Twins the last two games of the series, as Kyle Gibson beat Andrew Chafin 6-3 and Phil Hughes beat Vidal Nuno 2-1. Jared Burton got the save in the final game.
The Twins manager that year was Ron Gardenhire, who returned to Target Field for the first time as an opposing coach on Friday. In fact, Gardenhire only managed four more games for the Twins before the end of the 2014 season, when he was let go. He’s now the bench coach for the Diamondbacks, and looks good as he’s lost weight independent of his treatment for prostate cancer. He’s doing well health-wise — he had some bloodwork done on Friday and the results came back good — and the team he’s coaching is behind only the blazing-hot Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West.
Ron Gardenhire said he's renting a place from Justin Morneau down in Arizona during the season.
— Brandon Warne (@Brandon_Warne) August 18, 2017
Here’s the full video from his conference:
— Brace Hemmelgarn (@bracehemmelgarn) August 18, 2017
Mitch Garver has also arrived at Target Field. He’ll wear No. 43, and while he isn’t in the lineup for Friday’s game, he’ll be in the mix at DH, left field, first base and maybe some in the outfield as well, manager Paul Molitor said. He’s the call-up for the roster spot vacated by Robbie Grossman after he broke his thumb, and figures to get as much playing time as his bat merits the rest of the way here. With Grossman expected to miss about three weeks due to his thumb injury, it’s going to be likely that Garver is here for the duration. Carlos Paulino was promoted from Double-A Chattanooga to fill his spot with the Red Wings.
— Twins Photography (@TwinsPics) August 18, 2017
A few former Twins are in town for Michael Cuddyer’s Hall of Fame weekend as well. Nick Punto was chopping it up with traveling secretary Mike Herman and public relations head Dustin Morse as well as a few Diamondbacks players he knew from his very short stint with the team. Brad Radke was also hanging out in the equipment manager’s room in the Twins clubhouse, getting an earful from septuagenarian clubhouse worker Wayne “Big Fella” Hattaway. Former Twins executive Andy MacPhail will also be inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame.
Here’s how the Twins will line up against Godley:
— Brandon Warne (@Brandon_Warne) August 18, 2017
Here’s how the Diamondbacks will counter:
J.D. Martinez has been scratched due to illness.
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) August 18, 2017
Santana has been impressive with the Twins this year, though he’s clearly run hot and cold at times despite a solid ERA. Through 24 starts, Santana has allowed zero earned runs seven times and one or fewer 11 times. Contrarily, he’s allowed five or more earned runs seven times, including most recently on July 21 against Detroit.
The slider has remained Santana’s most effective pitch from a whiff standpoint, as he’s got a 17 percent swinging strike rate on it this year (17.9 percent career). In fact, it’s the only really great pitch for Santana this season. He’s allowing a .484 OPS against on the slider, and a .770 mark or higher on every other pitch. In other words, it’s key for Santana to work ahead and bury hitters with the slider, or else he finds himself getting buried. As a result, it’s easy to see why he runs so good or bad on any given start.
To get the lowdown on Godley, I caught up with Nick Piecoro of AZCentral Sports:
Left-hander Dietrich Enns had an MRI which revealed some inflammation in his left shoulder. That shoulder also cost him a couple months while he was in the Yankees system this season. Molitor said that Enns had an injection in the shoulder on Friday, and the hope is that this is a short-term deal for the 26-year-old lefty.
- The Twins are expecting 28,000 fans for Friday night’s game.
- The first 10,000 fans through the gates will receive a Rod Carew bobblehead, and there’ll also be postgame fireworks.
- When Garver gets into a game, he’ll be the 11th Twin to make their MLB debut this season.
- The Twins are 8-7 in interleague play this season.
- The Twins are 4-5 all-time against the Diamondbacks.
- The natural inclination is to believe that top prospect Stephen Gonsalves will make one of the starts on Monday, but don’t be surprised if it’s Tim Melville who gets the call. Melville was initially slated to start this weekend, but has been taken off Rochester’s probables from this weekend, while Gonsalves is slated to start on Sunday. Melville was a big prospect with the Royals during the days of Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and others, but was waylaid by issues with command and injuries. He has a stellar 2.70 ERA in 11 appearances (10 starts) with the Red Wings this season, with nearly a strikeout per inning and just a 1.07 WHIP. Over his last five starts, Melville has a 2.14 ERA, .515 OPS against and 36-9 K/BB ratio in 33.2 innings.
- Byron Buxton is 21-of-22 on stolen bases this season, including successful on his last 16 straight, per the game notes.