There's no sugar-coating it: the Red Sox and Twins are two of the American League's most disappointing clubs. The Red Sox, pre-season World Series favorites, sit at 14-17 while the Twins, perennial contenders, are looking up at that mark from 11-18.
On the one hand, someone has to win, and with the Red Sox outperforming the Twins in runs scored, runs allowed, and about every stat in between, it would seem like it's the Sox that are poised to benefit. But of course, the Red Sox haven't exactly done the best job of beating the worst teams in the league. 1-2 against the Mariners, 1-2 against the Orioles, and 0-2 against a Tampa Bay team that started the series with one win doesn't make for the most impressive of records.
Can the Sox turn things around against Minnesota? Or will this just be the most recent disappointment?
Friday, May 6, 7:10 p.m.
Tim Wakefield (0-0, 4.08 ERA) vs. Scott Baker (1-2, 3.16 ERA
The Red Sox will need to once again turn to Tim Wakefield after their starting rotation was thrown for a loop with Wednesday's extra-innings rain-delayed game forcing Daisuke Matsuzaka into action out of the bullpen. Though Wakefield also played in that game, he only threw twelve pitches and so should be reasonably ready to go. In his last start, Sunday against the Mariners, Wakefield threw 5.2 innings of one-run ball.
Scott Baker has been on a roll in his last three starts, allowing just three runs in over 20 innings of work. As a flyball pitcher, however, he might have some trouble with the Monster out in left field.
Saturday, May 7, 1:10 p.m.
Clay Buchholz (2-3, 4.81 ERA) vs. Brian Duensing (2-1, 2.91 ERA)
Coming off his first quality start of the season, Clay Buchholz is coming up against perhaps the perfect lineup given his performance so far this year: they don't strike out much, they don't walk much, they just put the ball in play, and don't do so particularly well. Given that Clay hasn't been doing too good with the walks and strikeouts, this seems a match made in heaven.
Brian Duensing is just beginning his first full season as a starter, but already he's looking like the Twins' ace. He doesn't have much experience in the role, but that hasn't stopped him from shutting down a number of teams with winning records. Still, the Yankees did a decent job against him last time around, and the Twins don't exactly have the infield defense to make the best use of his ground balls, either.
Sunday, May 8, 1:35 p.m.
Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-3, 4.33 ERA) vs. Carl Pavano (2-3, 5.84 ERA)
Matsuzaka didn't have the best outing against the Angels, but given that he was coming out of the bullpen, it's hard to fault him for it. Other than that performance, however, Sox fans haven't seen him since his elbow tightened up against the Mariners, before which he was on the best two-game streak of his career. Right now, Matsuzaka is the biggest question mark in the series.
Carl Pavano had a terrific season in 2010, but it's looking now like that was just a career year. His strikeouts are down from what was already a very low figure, his walks are up by more than half, and as a result, his ERA is sky-high. About all he has going for him is a decent record against Boston in recent years.
Monday, May 9, 7:10 p.m.
Josh Beckett (2-1, 2.35 ERA) vs. TBD
Josh Beckett had his last start against the Angels cut short, but through 4 innings, he seemed to be back on track against the Angels, holding them scoreless with only one hit. The way Beckett has been pitching so far this year, he shouldn't really have much to worry about against the worst offensive team in the majors.
Normally, this would be Francisco Liriano's spot in the rotation. However, having thrown 123 pitches in his no-hitter, Ron Gardenhire is considering giving him some extra rest. If not Liriano, Gardenhire will likely call on Nick Blackburn to start.