Today is David Ortiz’s final game in Minnesota, which is one of the top storylines today. He’s hit .443 in his career at Target Field, and .269 in the Metrodome, where he played 19 games for the Red Sox and 233 for the Twins.
But Big Papi isn’t the only story today. For one thing, it’s an interesting contrast in the pitching matchup today. The Twins’ hopes for avoiding a sweep rest with rookie lefthander Pat Dean, who has never faced the Red Sox. Boston is countering with Rick Porcello, who is making his 26th start against Minnesota, and 11th in Target Field.
Porcello is 8-9 all-time against the Twins, but has lost his last three starts against them with an ERA of 5.79. Dean, who memorably outpitched Felix Hernadez two weeks ago in Seattle, hasn’t pitched well since then; he’s 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA. Dean has a little extra motivation today, though — he was excited that his wife Katie, a third-grade teacher in New Jersey, had flown in for the weekend to watch.
After the game, the Twins will fly across the country for an odd three-night stay in Anaheim. They’ll fly right back after Wednesday night’s game, and aren’t due to arrive until after sunrise Thursday morning. Since Kyle Gibson will pitch that night’s game, he’s simply staying behind while the team goes west; he’ll pitch a bullpen session Monday, then watch on TV.
It’s a crazy schedule that would seem to put extra wear on a team that could use a break, but Paul Molitor said he always welcomes even the biggest travel hurdles. “I always thought of it as part of the challenge,” Molitor said of this week’s brief trip.
Their first challenge, however, is breaking their latest three-game losing streak, the ninth of three games or longer they’ve had this year. Here are the lineups for today’s homestand finale: