Monday, May 20, 2013

Game 44 Preview: Minnesota Twins (18-22) at Atlanta Braves (25-18)

Pitching Probables:
RHP Kevin Correia (MIN) 4-3, 3.35 ERA
RHP Julio Teheran (ATL) 2-1, 4.57 ERA

Tonight's Starting Lineups (7:10 pm ET, SportSouth):

Twins (Teheran's 1st career start against MIN):
Brian Dozier - 2B
Joe Mauer - C
Justin Morneau - 1B
Josh Willingham - LF
Trevor Plouffe - 3B
Chris Parmelee - RF
Pedro Florimon - SS
Aaron Hicks - CF
Kevin Correia - P

Braves (career vs. Correia):
Andrelton Simmons - SS (0-3)
Jason Heyward - RF (1-6, RBI, 2 BB)
Justin Upton - LF (14-42, 4 2B, HR, 2 RBI, BB, 7 K)
Freddie Freeman - 1B (2-5, 2B, RBI, K)
Gerald Laird - C (N/A)
Dan Uggla - 2B (5-17, HR, 2 RBI, 4 BB, 2 K)
Juan Francisco - 3B (1-3, 2B, RBI, K)
BJ Upton - CF (2-3, 2B, RBI)
Julio Teheran - P (N/A)

The last time the Braves hosted the Twins in Atlanta, the Braves defeated the Twins 14-5 in Game 5 of the 1991 World Series at the good ole launching pad that was Fulton County Stadium. All nine of the team's previous nine meetings since then have taken place in Minnesota, with the last coming in 2010 when the Braves swept the Twins. For the first time ever, the Twins will come to Turner Field to begin a three-game series tonight.
Twins come to town struggling mightily, having lost four of five games to finish their nine game home stand at 2-7. Braves had lost five of six games before starting their current six-game home stand at Turner Field by sweeping a three-game series with the Dodgers.
Twins RHP Kevin Correia will get the ball tonight for the Twins against fellow right-hander Julio Teheran of the first place Braves. Correia (4-3, 3.35 ERA) is no stranger to Turner Field, having spent the first ten years of his career in the National League with the Giants, Padres, and Pirates. He sports a 2.66 ERA in five appearances, including four starts at The Ted. Through 40 games, Correia has been the most consistent starting pitcher for the Twins, but has struggled a bit this month in three starts, posting an ERA of 5.71. In his previous start last Tuesday against the White Sox, Correia pitched into the 8th inning while allowing four runs on nine hits, walked one, and struck out two as he took the loss 4-2. Correia gave up two runs before recording an out in the 8th, losing out on what would have been his sixth quality start of the season.
Teheran (2-1, 4.57 ERA) has picked up his performance as of late, as he tries to solidify his spot in the rotation with the return of Brandon Beachy looming. The young right-hander has held his opponents to three runs or fewer in four consecutive starts and in that stretch, has posted a 14-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 25 1/3 innings pitched. Perhaps they key to Teheran's recent success has been his confidence in using his offspeed pitches, including using his changeup more frequently. Teheran did just that in his last start against the Diamondbacks, giving up just two runs on seven hits and struck out three over six innings, as he took an unfortunate loss, 2-0.

Twins sending NL vets to mound in series vs. Braves:
Coincidence or not? It just so happens that all three of the Twins starting pitchers who will start in the series against the Braves (Correia, Pelfrey, Worley) have spent their entire careers in the NL before this season and all three starters have had tons of experience against the Braves. Mike Pelfrey and Vance Worley both pitched in the NL East while Kevin Correia spent time with the Giants, Padres, and Pirates.

Juan Francisco slumping, Chris Johnson continues to streak:
Juan Francisco, who is platooning with Chris Johnson at third base, has been striking out at an alarming rate in his recent slump. Francisco has struck out in seven consecutive at-bats and has struck out nine times in his last ten. Francisco is hitless in his last thirteen at-bats with ten strikeouts and he has struck out 39 times in 91 at-bats this season.
On the contrary, Chris Johnson has nine hits in his last sixteen at-bats with a double and a home run. Johnson has ripped apart lefties this season, going 20-for-46 (.435) which leads all of baseball.

Side note:
Braves are 4-5 all-time in the regular season against the Twins.
Justin Upton has owned Kevin Correia in his career, going 14-for-42 (.333) with a homer and four doubles.
BJ Upton is last in the NL in hitting (.145) through 39 game splayed this season.
Julio Teheran will make his first career start against the Twins tonight.
Kevin Correia is 3-2 with a 3.51 ERA in 11 appearances (7 starts) against the Braves in his career.

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