Left-hander Rich Hill takes the mound Sunday afternoon as the Minnesota Twins try and build on a five-game winning streak in the fourth of their five-game series against the Detroit Tigers in Minneapolis.
Hill (1-1, 3.94 ERA) received a no-decision in Minnesota’s last loss on Monday against the Chicago White Sox, allowing two runs on three hits and four walks in 3 1/3 innings of an eventual 8-5 defeat. Despite being staked to an early 4-0 lead, he was lifted after walking the bases loaded to start the fourth and then one out later yielding a two-run single to Adam Engel.
This will be the first time since 2017, while Hill was with the Los Angeles Dodgers, that the 40-year-old Hill has faced Detroit. He is 3-0 with a 3.77 ERA in 16 career appearances and three starts against the Tigers.
Detroit (17-20), which will be trying to snap a four-game losing streak, will counter with highly touted right-hander Casey Mize (0-1, 6.75 ERA).
Mize, the first overall pick of the 2018 MLB Draft out of Auburn, will be making his fourth major league start and second in a row against Minnesota (25-16). He was lifted after just three innings in the Tigers’ 3-2 victory over the Twins on Sunday after allowing two runs on two hits and two walks while throwing 67 pitches, only 39 of which were strikes. He struck out four.
Minnesota comes in off a 4-3 come-from-behind victory on Saturday night, scoring two runs in the bottom of the ninth on a Miguel Sano RBI single and the winning run when Byron Buxton beat out a routine two-out grounder to short to drive in Nelson Cruz from third.
Buxton was timed at 3.83 seconds to first and hit the bag just ahead of shortstop Willi Castro’s throw.
“There’s a lot of things that Buck does that you just don’t see very often on a baseball field,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “And because of that, even at the big league level, when guys are used to seeing all kinds of impressive things, you do see Buck do things that you don’t see from anyone else. It’s amazing to watch, and the results speak for themselves.”
Detroit bench coach Lloyd McClendon, who took over managing duties midway through the game when Ron Gardenhire left with a stomach virus, said there wasn’t much more Castro could have done on the play.
“He charged the ball,” McClendon said. “(Buxton) might be the best runner in baseball, especially on a swinging bunt. That’s a tough play and I think Willi did everything he could in that position.”
The Tigers have now lost four in a row starting with an 8-5 loss at Milwaukee on Wednesday that saw them blow a 5-3 lead followed by 2-0 and 3-2 losses in a doubleheader on Friday to the Twins before Saturday’s infield single walk-off by Buxton.
“Our last four losses have been really gut-wrenching losses for us,” McClendon said. “We’re actually playing pretty good baseball. That’s the perception and reality of things. You lose four in a row and people thing you’re going in the tank. The fact is we’ve played good baseball. We didn’t get a key hit there or make a play here, and those things happen over the course of a season, especially at this level.
“It’s awfully hard to win major league baseball games. Things have to go right for you, and these last four days things just didn’t go right for us.”
–Field Level Media