The Minnesota Twins have been the hottest team in Major League Baseball since the calendar hit the month of June, as they've won seven consecutive ball games and fourteen of their last sixteen. They've managed to climb out of the basement of the American League Central division and have cut their deficit in the division to just 7.5 games behind the division-leading Cleveland Indians.
Tonight, they have a tall order ahead of them, as they begin a six-game interleague road trip with a three-game series against the defending World Series Champions, the San Francisco Giants, at AT&T Park. The Giants have picked up where they left off last year, despite the loss of star catcher Buster Posey for the rest of the season and losing second baseman Freddy Sanchez to an injury as well. The Giants lead the National League West with a record of 39-33, and their pitching staff is still as good as any in baseball.
It should be noted that neither Denard Span nor Jason Kubel made the trip to San Francisco, so neither of them will be returning until the start of the series in Milwaukee on Friday, at the earliest. Span is expected to possibly be out a little longer than that.
On Friday night, Minnesota will give the baseball to right-hander Carl Pavano (4-5, 4.20 ERA) in Tuesday night's match-up. After getting off to a very rough start to the season, Pavano has been very good over his past six starts, going at least seven innings each time. That includes complete games in two of his last three starts, and the Twins have gone 4-2 in Pavano's last six starts.
San Francisco will turn the ball over to left-hander Madison Bumgarner (3-8, 3.21 ERA). It's hard to believe that a pitcher with a 3.21 ERA could have just three victories against eight losses, but he hasn't gotten a lot in the way of run support this season. He got a victory in his last start, a 5-2 Giants' victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks last Wednesday, but in his previous two starts he allowed just two earned runs in fourteen innings of work, yet managed to get saddled with the loss both times.
First pitch from AT&T Park is scheduled for 9:15 PM Central time. The good folks over at Twinkie Town will have the Game Thread set up for those of you that will be burning the midnight oil, and we'll have the recap up here for you after the game.