MINNEAPOLIS — Jose Berrios will try to build on an unexpected run of starting pitching success for the Minnesota Twins.
Dylan Bundy will try to stop the Baltimore Orioles’ losing streak.
The two young right-handers will square off Thursday as the two teams start a four-game series at Target Field.
The Twins had two recent trends right themselves in this week’s series against the Los Angeles Angels.
Minnesota, with the fewest home wins in the American League, won two of the three games against Los Angeles. Meanwhile, its rotation provided a big boost — with all three pitchers lasting into the seventh inning.
Ervin Santana threw his major-league-leading fourth complete game of the season Wednesday, but the Twins lost 2-1 to Los Angeles. Berrios, as he has done since his recall in May, will try to emulate Santana.
“We won the series — that’s the most important thing,” Santana said. “We just have to come tomorrow and keep playing the way we’ve been playing.”
Baltimore, which is tied with Detroit for the second-fewest road wins in the American League this year, is hoping Bundy (8-7, 4.02 ERA) can snap the Orioles out of a streak that has seen them lose three straight and five of six.
“This is a tough stretch,” Baltimore closer Zach Britton said. “Teams in our division are getting hot right now. Go in to Minnesota, kind of turn the page on this series. That is all we can do. Hopefully we win that series and go home after the break and get ready to roll after the All-Star break.”
Britton returned from the disabled list Wednesday, a move sure to help the bullpen. Bundy will try to give the rotation a strong start after alternating wins and losses in his last five outings. Over his past six starts, Bundy is 2-4 with a 6.61 ERA.
The right-hander is coming off a season-low four innings in a loss to Tampa Bay in which he allowed five runs on seven hits, including three home runs. He has surrendered a homer in 10 straight games.
“Yeah, long ball got me in trouble today, obviously,” Bundy said after his last start. “I mean, just pitches right down the middle or pitches that were up in the zone and they were able to hammer today. So, tough game plan. They came out swinging the bats early, and I tried to manage it but wasn’t able to today.”
Bundy gave up two runs in seven innings of a 2-0 loss against Minnesota on May 23. In two career games vs. the Twins, he is 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA.
Berrios (7-2, 3.44) beat the Orioles earlier this season. He yielded three runs in 6 1/3 innings on May 24 in Baltimore. He’s 1-0 with a 4.76 ERA in two career starts against the Orioles. Like many of his rotation mates in Minnesota, Berrios will try to bounce back from a less-than-stellar outing.
The right-hander gave up five runs in five innings, allowing three home runs, in a no-decision at Kansas City last time out.
“As an athlete and competitor, I feel bad,” Berrios told the Star Tribune after the game. “I don’t want to go out there and pitch the way I did, especially with how well we’ve been playing lately and our position in the standings. As far as my confidence and where I’m at, I’m good.”
Getting to Berrios has been tough enough for most teams this season, but Baltimore’s offense is also struggling. The Orioles were shut out Wednesday to end a three-game sweep in Milwaukee. They’ve been shut out twice in the past eight games and have averaged 2.38 runs per game in that span.
“It is hard to fault anything,” manager Buck Showalter said after Wednesday’s loss. “We didn’t score any runs again. That is pretty much a short conversation when you are evaluating the game.”
Minnesota could be without first baseman Joe Mauer, who was out of the lineup Wednesday and revealed he has been dealing with some back spasms. He’s considered day-to-day and said he’s hopeful he feels better and is able to play.
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