Opposite dugout: Last-place Twins try to avoid season sweep at hands of Orioles

TwinsLogo.jpgManager: Paul Molitor (2nd season)

Record: 8-23

Last 10 games: 1-9

Who to watch: 1B Joe Mauer (.299/.420/.402), DH Byung Ho Park (.256/.337/.570 with 7 HR, 12 RBIs), 2B Brian Dozier (4 HR, 14 RBIs), RHP Ricky Nolasco (1-1, 4.70 ERA, 34 K), LHP Fernando Abad (0.68 ERA, 0.90 WHIP)

Season series vs. Orioles: 0-3

Pitching probables:

May 9: RHP Tyler Wilson vs. RHP Jose Berrios, 8:10 p.m., MASN2
May 10: RHP Kevin Gausman vs. RHP Phil Hughes, 8:10 p.m., MASN2
May 11: TBA vs. RHP Ricky Nolasco, 1:10 p.m., MASN

Inside the Twins:

Well, remember when I wrote on opening day that we will figure out real soon if last year's second-place finish for the Twins was legit or not? I think we know by now. They started the season on a nine-game losing streak, which began with a three-game set at Camden Yards from the get-go. They have lost seven of their first 10 series in 2016, six of which via a sweep.

Although to be fair, this first month-plus of the season would have been pretty brutal for any team. The Twins have faced clubs with .500 or better records seven times (four on the road), first-place teams four times (including the Orioles) and two playoff teams from last season on the road (including the defending world champion Royals). As you might have guessed, the Twins haven't done so well on the road, going a miserable 2-15. So they hope to improve their 6-8 home record with these three games against the Birds.

Minnesota's offense hasn't been terrible, but it doesn't exactly stand up to the Orioles' power, either. First baseman Joe Mauer is back to his swinging ways, leading qualified Twins with 32 hits and a .299 average to go along with his .420 on-base percentage and .402 slugging percentage. Offseason KBO acquisition Byung Ho Park is starting to come along nicely at the plate with a team-high seven home runs with 12 RBIs. Second baseman Brian Dozier is batting a lowly .220 but leads the Twins with 14 RBIs. Keep an eye out for infielder Eduardo Nunez, who spots a .372/.412/.513 slash line while seeing most of his time at third.

The pitching, on the other hand, is killing the Twins. The staff as a whole posts an American League-worst 4.71 ERA. Looking to change that is rookie Jose Berrios in tonight's opener. The 21-year-old first-round draft pick in 2012 is the first of three righties the Twins will throw this series and has posted a 1-1 record with a 6.75 ERA over his first two big league starts. He only went four innings, giving up five runs on six hits, while taking the loss in his debut against the Indians, but was much better his second time around. Going 5 1/3 innings, Berrios only gave up two runs on three hits for his first win in Houston. Phil Hughes had a rough first month and brings his 1-5 record and 5.85 ERA to the mound for the middle game of this series. The former Yankee is now 8-6 with a 4.56 ERA against the Orioles after giving up three runs on six hits (including a home run to Manny Machado) over six innings in Baltimore on April 7. Ricky Nolasco will start Wednesday's matinee finale at Target Field, bringing his 1-1 record and 4.70 ERA to the mound. Nolasco will try to improve at home as he doesn't have a decision with a 5.85 ERA in three starts in Minneapolis. The 33-year-old is 2-3 with a 4.63 ERA in five career starts against the Orioles.

The Twins are one of two teams yet to reach to 10-win mark this season (the other being the Braves). As the offense stays steady, the Twins pitching will need to step up if they want to win just their third series this season. Otherwise, they will be looking at the Orioles avenging their season sweep last year at the hands of the Twins with one of their own.

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