Minnesota right-hander Bailey Ober will try to bounce back from his worst start of the season when the Twins open a three-game series against the slumping Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night in Minneapolis
Ober (6-5, 3.19 ERA), who has never faced the Diamondbacks, arguably had been the Twins' most consistent starter heading into his outing at Kansas City on Saturday. In that contest, the 28-year-old allowed career highs in runs (six) and hits (11) over four innings in a 10-7 loss
That was the middle contest of a three-game series in which Minnesota was shockingly swept by the American League Central cellar-dweller Royals. However, the Twins bounced back to win two of three games at St. Louis, including 5-3 on Thursday night
Despite going just 2-4 against two teams in last place in their divisions, Minnesota actually increased its AL Central lead by a game on the trip to 2 1/2 games over the second-place Cleveland Guardians
In the rubber-game victory on Thursday, Sonny Gray snapped a 15-start winless drought and Ryan Jeffers and Michael A. Taylor each hit a two-run homer to lead the Twins
"That was a great way to end a road trip," Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. "Grabbing some early runs and great starting pitching, that's a winning combination. Sonny was great today.
Gray allowed two runs on five hits over seven innings. He struck out eight and didn't walk a batter
"I think Sonny only wants to win ballgames, and that's the only thing on his mind," Baldelli said when asked about Gray's winless drought. "And we were able to do that tonight in a nice fashion.
Arizona brings a three-game losing streak to Minnesota after getting blanked 1-0 at San Francisco on Thursday afternoon
The Diamondbacks, who have just 15 runs over their past seven games and have been shut out twice in that span, wasted an outstanding start by Brandon Pfaadt. The rookie right-hander allowed just one run -- a solo homer by LaMonte Wade Jr. in the fourth inning -- on two hits over seven innings. He walked one and struck out seven
"Brandon deserved a better fate for sure," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said
Arizona, which held a three-game lead in the National League West on July 2, has gone just 5-14 since the All-Star break. The Diamondbacks have dropped to third place in the division and find themselves 1 1/2 games behind the Cincinnati Reds for the final NL wild-card spot
Right-hander Merrill Kelly (9-5, 3.23 ERA) will try to halt the slippage for Arizona. He won his lone career start against the Twins on June 19, 2022, when he pitched seven innings of one-run ball
He will hope to get some help from a Diamondbacks offense that is riding a 17-inning scoreless streak
"We're all battling a certain degree of frustration in here," Lovullo said. "This hasn't been easy, but we can't feel sorry for ourselves. We just can't go to sleep and say it's going to happen. We've got to find a way out of this, and we've got to prep (and) focus.
--Field Level Medi