The Philadelphia Phillies open a three-game interleague series at the Minnesota Twins in a battle between two last-place teams, but that’s about all they have in common. The Phillies entered the season as favorites to win the division, thanks largely to their starting rotation. But the team has lost eight of its last nine to fall eight games behind first-place Washington. Injuries to first baseman Ryan Howard, second baseman Chase Utley and pitcher Roy Halladay haven’t helped, but neither has sloppy defense and a bullpen that struggles to get the ball to closer Jonathan Papelbon.
While the Phillies have been one of the majors’ biggest disappointments, nobody expected much from the Twins, who are 9-3 in their past 12 games and have won their past four series. Minnesota is still 8 1/2 games back in the American League Central, but the Twins’ offense has picked up in recent weeks. They have scored the second-most runs in the majors dating back to May 16, with their 125 runs trailing only the White Sox (141). After losing 26 of their first 36 games, the Twins have the consistent lineup Philadelphia can only dream about.
Phillies Twins Betting
When: 8:10 PM ET, Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Where: Target Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota
TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, CS Philadelphia, FS North (Minnesota)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Phillies RH Kyle Kendrick (2-5, 4.44 ERA) vs. Twins RH Nick Blackburn (2-4, 7.75)
Kendrick gave up five runs over 5 2/3 innings Wednesday against the Dodgers as he struggled in his second straight start. After throwing a complete game May 26, Kendrick has pitched only 11 innings in his last two combined starts. He is 1-1 with a 3.42 ERA in seven road outings this season.
Blackburn made his first start since coming off the 15-day disabled list (quad) Wednesday against the Royals, giving up two runs over five innings. Blackburn, who is 41-50 lifetime with a 4.66 ERA, has gone six-plus innings in only three of his eight starts this season.
1. The Phillies are last in the majors with a 38 percent success rate when batting with runners on third and less than two outs.
2. Liam Hendriks is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Rochester to start for the Twins against Milwaukee on Saturday. Hendriks tossed 8 2/3 shutout innings for the Red Wings on Saturday.
3. Phillies right fielder Hunter Pence is 15-for-40 (.375) in June with eight RBIs in 10 games.