After taking control of the American League Central race with an impressive 4-2 road trip, the Minnesota Twins open a six-game homestand with a three-game series against the New York Mets on Friday night in Minneapolis.
Left-hander Dallas Keuchel (1-1, 5.06 ERA) will make his fifth start for the Twins and will be opposed by right-hander Kodai Senga (10-7, 3.08).
Keuchel is coming off a no-decision at Texas on Saturday when he allowed five runs on five hits, including home runs to Adolis Garcia and Sam Huff, over 3 1/3 innings in a game the Twins rallied to win 9-7 in 10 innings.
The 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner is 1-1 with a 2.00 ERA in three career starts against the Mets with all three appearances coming in 2019 when he pitched for the Atlanta Braves.
Senga has been one of the few bright spots for an underachieving New York team that went into full rebuild mode at the trade deadline. He received a no-decision in an eventual 2-1 win over Seattle last Friday when he allowed just one run on five hits over seven innings. He walked two and matched his career high with 12 strikeouts.
The Twins (73-67), who trailed defending AL Central champion Cleveland by a half-game at the All-Star break, won two of three games against the Texas Rangers and Guardians on their road trip and returned home with a six-game lead with 22 games left to play.
"I mean, it's hard not to like the road trip," Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said after a 2-1 loss in the series finale at Cleveland on Wednesday afternoon. "We did a lot of the things that we wanted to do the last six days."
The Twins outscored the Guardians 28-9 in winning the first two games of the series while rolling up 31 hits but managed just two hits in Wednesday's soggy loss that included a 66-minute rain delay.
The Guardians won the season series 7-6 and would hold the tiebreaker should the Twins falter down the stretch and finish tied with Cleveland. But Minnesota plays just two teams — the Tampa Bay Rays and Cincinnati Reds — with winning records in their final seven series, including three against teams (Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics and Colorado Rockies) that are among the bottom four in win percentage.
New York (64-75) enters Friday's contest with a 1 1/2-game lead over Washington with 23 games left in the battle to avoid last place in the NL East. The Mets split a two-game midweek series with the Nationals after a 3-2 walk-off loss on Wednesday.
The Mets are using September to get a gauge on some of their young talent heading into 2024. Four rookies — Mark Vientos, Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty and Ronny Mauricio — batted fifth through eighth in the batting order in an 11-5 victory over the Nats on Tuesday, a game that saw Brandon Nimmo hit two home runs to increase his career high to 22.
Nimmo said he is not worried about where the Mets finish and is focused on helping guide the newcomers.
"I'm trying to see what they do on a daily basis and mentor them," Nimmo said. "I'm more worried about that, honestly. I could care less whether we finish last or second to last in the division. I really don't care. I'm looking towards how can we make this team as good as possible for next year."
—Field Level Media