Amid all the negative numbers that are swirling around Target Field — the Twins could lose their 100th game tonight, for example, or clinch the worst record in the majors — there is a positive one that’s still achievable. Though it, too, could be framed as a negative.
Tyler Duffey, 8-11 in a disappointing sophomore season, starts tonight against the Mariners, and he’ll pitch again next Friday in Chicago. And he is the only starting pitcher remaining who has a shot at double-digit victories if he can win them both.
Never in franchise history have the Twins had zero pitchers with at least nine wins, and only three times — in 1981, 2011 and 2013 — have they failed to have a 10-game winner. Obviously, those numbers, like a lot of others, are being swept away by the awfulness that this season has been in Minnesota.
Duffey hasn’t pitched in 10 days, with manager Paul Molitor electing to give him a “mental break” after giving up at least five runs in four consecutive starts. Duffey hasn’t recorded a win since Aug. 13 and his ERA has ballooned to 6.39, yet he’s the winningest pitcher on the Twins’ staff.
“I’m looking for a guy to go out there and show that he’s going to be aggressive,” Molitor said. “He’s basically, mostly a two-pitch guy. He commands his fastball [in order to] get people to swing at his breaking ball. But he’s had some issues with consistency.”
Yes, that’s a polite way to put it.
It’s the penultimate game at Target Field this season, and it means a lot to Seattle: With a victory, the Mariners could pull within one game of the final wild card playoff spot. They’ll send lefthander Ariel Miranda to the mound.
Joe Mauer is not in the Twins’ lineup today, but Molitor said he hopes Mauer’s legs will feel well enough to allow him to play in the home finale tomorrow.
Here are the lineups for tonight’s game: