The Washington Nationals finally got what they needed. On the other side, the Minnesota Twins have fallen into an offensive funk similar to what the Nationals have been going through
So any sort of sustained offense could make the difference when the teams meet again Saturday afternoon in Minneapolis.
The Nationals, who had gone two full games without scoring and hadn't had a runner cross the plate since Sunday, got one run in the seventh and two more in the eighth to come away with a 3-2 victory Friday night in the opener of the three-game series
"We battled and put some balls in play," Nationals manager Davey Martinez said. "Drove in some big runs.
That result was a sour start to a 10-game homestand for the Twins
"All of the losses, none of them feel good," said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, whose team has lost five of its last six games. "When we wake up (Saturday), we can't worry about this.
At least Saturday's meeting will come in the afternoon when the temperatures might not be so brutally cold.
"We played good defense again, which is awesome," Martinez said.
That compounded the problems for Minnesota. The Twins haven't churned out enough clutch hits across the past week
"We're putting a lot of pressure on our pitching staff," Baldelli said. "They're throwing the ball pretty good overall. We have to find a way to get a few more base runners on, more better at-bats."
Right-hander Chad Kuhl (0-1, 8.59 ERA) will be the starting pitcher for the Nationals. He has given up at least four runs in each of his three starts, but didn't suffer a loss until April 15 vs. Cleveland. However, the Nationals are 0-3 in his starts
Kuhl, who has made 130 career appearances, all in the National League, has never faced the Twins
Right-hander Pablo Lopez (1-1, 1.73) goes to the mound for the Twins. He has pitched into the sixth inning in each of his four outings, keeping each opponent to two or fewer runs
"We get a chance to watch everything Pablo does," Baldelli said. "He's a wonderful guy."
Lopez has struck out 33 batters while issuing six walks in 26 innings. In his career against Washington, he's 4-2 with a 4.57 ERA in 61 innings while pitching for divisional foe Miami.
The Twins called up right-hander Simeon Woods Richardson to bolster the pitching staff
Friday's game marked the return of Twins second baseman Jorge Polanco following a stint on the injured list with a knee injury. He went 1-for-4 in his season debut
"I think the guys in the clubhouse have been waiting for him, and now he's here," Baldelli said.
It's still hard to tell where the main offense might come from for the Nationals. Their first run on Friday night came on the first home run of the season by Joey Meneses
"Stuff is starting to click for him," Martinez said. "Hopefully this is a sign that he's getting the bat out in front and he's going to start hitting the ball hard like that consistently."
--Field Level Media