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Twins At Diamondbacks: Minnesota Starts Interleague Slate In Arizona

Riding their longest winning streak of 2011, the Twins will look for their fourth consecutive victory on Friday night at Chase Field, as they begin their 2011 interleague schedule with a three-game weekend series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Interleague play has usually served the Twins quite well. Since the interleague format was introduced back in 1997, the Twins have the third-highest winning percentage in interleague play in Major League Baseball at .569, trailing only the New York Yankees (.585) and the Chicago White Sox (.577). That .569 winning percentage comes on the strength of a record of 140 wins and 106 losses in 246 interleague contests. Conversely, the Diamondbacks have the fourth-worst winning percentage in interleague play, with only the Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates, and San Diego Padres having less success. In 202 interleague games in franchise, the Diamondbacks have won 90 games and dropped 112.

The Diamondbacks enter this one on a three-game winning streak as well, and tonight will hand the ball to right-hander Ian Kennedy (4-1, 3.05 ERA). Kennedy has not been charged with a loss since Arizona's 15-5 drubbing by the St. Louis Cardinals back on April 13, and has allowed just one earned run in his last 14 innings pitched. The Twins will counter with left-hander Brian Duensing (2-3, 4.61 ERA). The Twins won the first four games Duensing started this year, although he only figured in two of those decisions, and have lost the last four times that Duensing has began the game on the mound.

The Twins have released their lineup (and I haven't seen anything for the Diamondbacks yet). . .keep in mind, since this game is in a National League park, there is no designated hitter, so Brian Duensing is going to have to step into the batter's box and take his hacks. Here's what tonight's Twins lineup looks like:

Denard Span, center field
Trevor Plouffe, shortstop
Jason Kubel, right field (another by-product of no DH. . .Kubel will be out in the field)
Justin Morneau, first base
Michael Cuddyer, second base
Danny Valencia, third base
Delmon Young, left field
Rene Rivera, catcher
Brian Duensing, pitcher

First pitch for this one is scheduled for 8:40 PM Central time from Chase Field. Be sure to check out Twinkie Town for their Game Thread if you plan on staying up late, and come back here for the recap when everything is finished.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.