The Phillies have the right pitcher on the mound today -- Cliff Lee is 6-1 this season when following a Philadelphia loss, and the Phillies are one loss away from being swept by the Twins. Lee is also on a personal five-game winning streak.
Lee (7-2, 2.55 ERA) used to face the Twins all the time -- in three different seasons while he was a Cleveland Indian, Lee made four starts against Minnesota. But he hasn't been on the mound against the Twins for nearly three years now, since a five-runs-in-five-innings stint for the Rangers in 2010. He's never faced them as a Phillie, nor ever pitched in Target Field.
Lee, a lefthander, is one of those rare pitchers with a reverse platoon split, meaning lefthanders fare better against him than righthanders. For his career, lefties are batting .261 with a .385 slugging average for his career, versus a .252 average and .397 slugging against righthanders. And this year, it's even more pronounced: lefthanders are hitting .283 with a .348 slugging average, while righthanders have a .206 average and .305 slugging.
Maybe that's why Ron Gardenhire didn't hesitate to use four left-handed hitters in his lineup today, three of them in a row. We'll see if it makes a difference.
One other note: righthanded reliever Anthony Slama was released today by the Twins. A former 39th round draft pick, Slama owns 102 career saves in the minors, but was 0-4 with a 13.50 ERA with Class AAA Rochester this year.
Tonight's lineup as the Twins try to go above .500 in interleague play (they're 8-8 at the moment):
M. Young 3B
D. Young DH
Mauer (L) C