Radar shows more showers headed toward Target Field, where it’s rained steadily for much of the afternoon. The Twins are optimistic that, like Tuesday, there is a window of clear weather later tonight that would allow them to get tonight’s game in. And if they do play, they’ve got the right pitchers going: Trevor May, the Twins’ starter, has started six games this season that lasted less than three hours. And Toronto is starting Mark Buehrle, who has pitched four games this season that lasted less than 2 1/2 hours.
No pitcher in major-league history has won more games against the Twins (29) than Buehrle, so that’s a reason to be apprehensive about his start tonight, as the Blue Jays open a three-game series in Target Field. On the other hand, no pitcher has allowed more hits to the Twins than Buehrle (366), and if the Twins beat the veteran left-hander, he’ll be tied with Joe Horlen and Frank Tanana for the most losses ever to the Twins, too.
The longtime White Sox left-hander hasn’t faced Minnesota in almost two years, but the Twins know what to expect: A pitcher who works exceptionally fast, and is about as unpredictable as a pitcher can be. You have to do something to last so long, after all.
“He doesn’t overpower you. But he doesn’t make as many mistakes as young guys,” said Brian Dozier. “Not just leaving pitches over the plate, but he pitches backwards a lot. A lot of off-speed on hitters’ counts — he’s good at tricking the hitters.”
Of all the pitchers he’s faced in his career, Torii Hunter has faced Buehrle more than any other — 94 plate appearances. (Buehrle has faced only one batter more frequently than Hunter: former Twin Michael Cuddyer, 117 plate appearances). And Hunter says all that experience benefits Buehrle, not him. “The pitchers always has the advantage, in everything you do,” Hunter said. “I’ve hit him pretty hard. I’m not saying I got hits, but I’ve hit balls hard against him. And we’ve had some good battles.”
Hunter is batting .247 all-time against the lefty; oddly, he’s never drawn a walk against Buehrle.
Does his fast pace bother hitters? Not as much as you’d think, Dozier said. “I like guys who work fast. It keeps the thinking out of it,” Dozier said. “But that’s his game, so in certain situations, you have to force him to slow down. If he gets in a rhythm, especially.”
Here are tonight’s lineups for the Twins’ first game as a first-place team since April 8, 2013: