The Minnesota Twins return home to Minneapolis after matching their season-high with a four-game winning streak heading into a two-game series with the Cincinnati Reds starting Monday night.
The Reds, meanwhile, who began their current nine-game road trip with a three-game sweep of the Brewers in Milwaukee, bring a four-game losing streak with them after getting swept by the Padres in San Diego.
But baseball will take a back seat prior to the series opener. It is also Mike Bell Tribute Night as part of the team’s cancer awareness night.
Bell, the Twins’ popular bench coach in 2020 and the younger brother of Reds manager David Bell, died of kidney cancer at age 46 on March 26. The Twins, who wear a special MB patch on their uniform sleeve, will hold a ceremony honoring Mike Bell.
“For only being with the Twins one year, it just meant so much to him,” David Bell told StarTribune.com. “A lot of the players, a lot of the staff. The entire Twins organization was incredible with just the love they were showing, and that was really meaningful to him.”
“He was an incredibly selfless person,” said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli. “He was a man who cared so much for all the people around him and was invested in every possible way in helping others.”
Left-hander J.A. Happ (3-3, 6.12 ERA), who hasn’t had a quality start since April 28, will start for Minnesota vs. right-hander Tyler Mahle (7-2, 3.39).
Happ is 3-3 with a 5.36 ERA in nine career starts against Cincinnati but last faced the Reds in 2017. Mahle, meanwhile, has been one of the hottest pitchers in baseball, going 5-0 with a 2.15 ERA over his last five starts, most recently a 2-1 win at Milwaukee on Wednesday that saw him tie his career-high with 12 strikeouts while holding the Brewers to one run on three hits over six innings.
That was the last time the Reds won. Cincinnati lost 6-4 at San Diego on Thursday night on Victor Caratini’s dramatic two-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth, kicking off a losing streak that included a 3-2 loss to the Padres on Sunday afternoon.
“This weekend was tough, but we played our ass off,” said Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer. “We played hard. We did everything we could do. It wasn’t like we played that bad. We just got beat. I hate to say it, but that’s part of the game.”
Minnesota finished a 4-2 road trip that ended with a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers, including a 4-2 victory on Sunday afternoon in Arlington, Texas.
Byron Buxton, who was activated Saturday after missing 40 games with a right hip injury, homered, doubled and drove in two runs, while Luis Arraez, Andrelton Simmons and Trevor Larnach each had three hits for the Twins.
Kenta Maeda, who was making his second start after a three-week stint on the injured list with a right adductor strain and right arm soreness, picked up his first victory since May 3 after allowing two runs on five hits over 5 1/3 innings.
“We’ve played some pretty good baseball the last few days,” Simmons said. “Hopefully we can keep that up going forward.”
–Field Level Media