Twins look to Maeda to turn tide vs. Brewers


    The Minnesota Twins will turn to right-hander Kenta Maeda to try win the rubber game of their three-game series at Milwaukee on Wednesday night and end what has been a disappointing road trip on a high note.

    The Twins were 9-2 when they departed Minneapolis for the eight-game trip that began with a 5-2 victory at Pittsburgh. But the Twins have dropped five of six games since then, including a 6-4 loss to the Brewers on Tuesday night when Jedd Gyorko hit a two-run homer off reliever Taylor Rogers in the bottom of the eighth to complete the Brewers’ comeback from an early 4-1 deficit.

    Despite the recent rough stretch that included getting swept in three games at Kansas City, the Twins still lead the American League Central Division by a half-game over the Detroit Tigers.

    « Are we playing our absolute best, most dynamic baseball? » manager Rocco Baldelli said. « Of course, we’re not. And in spurts that’s going to happen. »

    Baldelli pointed out the Twins had similar rough patches en route to 101 victories and an AL Central title last season.

    « It happened last year for a fairly extended period of time at one point, » Baldelli said. « We’re playing a lot of close, competitive ballgames and everything matters in those games. It really comes down to one swing or a guy getting a big out in a spot where there are people on base. And really, if you don’t execute all the way through, if you don’t push across that extra run, if you don’t do everything in those close games, you may run the risk of losing.

    « We’ve lost some close games that we could very easily see ourselves winning. We just have to make it happen. »

    Maeda (2-0, 2.65 ERA) is no stranger to the Brewers, having made five starts against them while a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA against Milwaukee, including 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA in two starts at Miller Park.

    The Brewers will counter with left-hander Eric Lauer (0-1, 9.53), who will be making his first career appearance against the Twins. Lauer struggled in his only start this season against Cincinnati on Friday night, allowing six runs on five hits and three walks in an 8-3 loss.

    Milwaukee bounced back from a 4-2 loss in the series opener on Monday to hit four home runs, including two by catcher Manny Pina, to win Tuesday night’s contest on Gyorko’s tie-breaking two-run homer over the center field fence.

    « That was a good, big ballgame for us, a really nice win, » said Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell, whose team hits the quarter pole of the 60-game season with a 7-8 record. « We had to grind it out through nine innings. A lot of people doing good things tonight. A really good win. »

    The Brewers got another big night on Tuesday from their bullpen with Alex Claudio, Eric Yardley, David Phelps, Devin Williams and Josh Hader holding the Twins to just three singles and a pair of walks while combining for five innings of shutout relief. Over the past six games, Milwaukee’s bullpen has a 1.55 ERA, allowing 16 hits and 11 walks in 29 1/3 innings while striking out 37 batters.


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