MILWAUKEE — With a chance to climb above .500 for the first time since July 23, the streaking Minnesota Twins will shuffle their rotation and hand the ball to Dietrich Enns for his major league debut Thursday against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.
The 26-year-old right-hander will oppose Brewers right-hander Zach Davies (13-5, 4.18 ERA) in the finale of a four-game, home-and-home series. The Twins, who are riding a four-game winning streak, will look to complete a sweep against their interleague rival.
“We had a few things to consider,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said of the decision to call up Enns. “I don’t want to get into depth of how we landed there, but reports are encouraging. I think we feel he can do a good job for us, so we selected him.”
One of two pitchers acquired in a July 30 trade that sent left-hander Jaime Garcia to the Yankees, Enns made one appearance for Triple-A Rochester, allowing two runs over seven innings.
Before that, he was having a solid year for the Yankees’ Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre affiliate, going 1-1 with a 2.29 ERA in seven starts.
“Makeup-wise, we hear really good things,” Molitor said. “Poise, mound presence, all the things you want to hear about a kid trying to get to the big leagues. He has a nice variety of pitches. I think he uses them all. He pitches behind his fastball that has a little bit of a natural cut. He just knows how to make pitches.”
Enns replaces right-hander Kyle Gibson, who instead will start Friday against the Tigers in Detroit.
Enns will face a struggling Milwaukee lineup. The Brewers were shut out 4-0 by Minnesota on Wednesday, extending their losing streak to four games. They are averaging 2.3 runs in their past seven games and have scored more than four runs just three times since the All-Star break.
“That’s part of the game,” Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia said. “We could come back tomorrow and score 10 in an inning.
“Baseball, you go up and down. You have to keep your head up and keep going at it, keep your same mentality.”
One thing that is working for Milwaukee of late is the rotation. Davies has been a big part of that, going at least seven innings in each of his past four outings. He is 6-1 with 2.38 ERA over his past eight starts.
“He got off to a rough start. It took him awhile (to get going),” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “There were kind of signs he would get going, and then he would have a start that wasn’t so good.
“But this is the baseball season. A starting pitcher who is going to get 33 to 35 starts, you have to get in a groove like this. Sometimes it takes a little longer than you want. But he’s got into one, and he’s on a nice little run right now.”
While posting a 6.58 ERA in April and a 5.40 mark through June 20, just before his hot streak, Davies managed to pile up victories thanks to some powerful offensive support. Now, with the bats struggling, Davies knows it is up to him and the rotation to keep the team afloat.
“We saw that we need to pick it up and help out,” said Davies, who has never faced the Twins. “It’s going to go back and forth. I know that from experience.”
For the first time since May 13, the Brewers will look at the standings Thursday morning and see themselves in third place (by percentage points) in what suddenly has become a competitive National League Central race. St. Louis (58-56) and Milwaukee (59-57) are both 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Chicago Cubs (59-54).
The Twins (56-56) are 4 1/2 games behind the first-place Cleveland Indians (60-51) in the American League Central. Minnesota is just 1 1/2 games behind the Seattle Mariners (59-56) in the chase for the second AL wild card.
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