Tuesday, September 26, 2023
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MLB Preview: Minnesota Twins (79-72) at Cincinnati Reds (79-73)


THE TWINS: Have gone 3-2 through five games on their seven-game roadtrip, winning three of four in Chicago-AL, followed by a loss in Cincinnati last night…tonight, the Twins will continue the trip with the second of three against the Reds through tomorrow afternoon… after tomorrow’s game, the Twins will travel back to Minneapolis to enjoy an off-day on Thursday…on Friday night, they will begin their final homestand of 2023 and play the Angels three times over the weekend, spend an off-day on September 25, then host the Athletics for three games from September 26-28…the Twins have gone 43-32 at home and 36-40 on the road, winning nine of their last 15 games away from Target Field. The Twins have five road games remaining, two in Cincy and three at Colorado to finish the season…they need to go 5-0 to finish with a winning road record in 2023.

RED FACED IN CINCY: The Twins lost to the Reds last night at Great American Ball Park by a score of 7-3…Joey Ryan (10-10) was the starter and loser, allowing four runs on five hits in 5.0 innings pitched…Dallas Keuchel pitched 3.0 innings of relief, allowing three runs on four hits…the offense recorded five hits, walked once and went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position…Max Kepler had two of the five hits, both singles…Royce Lewis (15) and Alex Kirilloff (9) each homered.

DIVISION SIGNS: Regardless of last night’s defeat in Cincinnati, the Guardians lost to the Royals yesterday afternoon, reducing the Twins’ magic number to five…Minnesota enters today at 79-72 with a 7.0-game lead on the Guardians, who sit at 72-79…below is a brief look at Minnesota and Cleveland:

Minnesota 79-72 – – Lost at CIN, 3-7 at CIN (Maeda vs. F. Cruz) 3 vs. LAA (9/22-24)
Cleveland 72-79 7.0 Lost at KC, 4-6 at KC (Allen vs. S. Cruz) 4 vs. BAL (9/21-24)
NOTE: The earliest the Twins could clinch the AL Central division title would be during the off-day on Thursday…if the Twins win the next two vs. the Reds and the Guardians lose their next two vs. Kansas City, and lost to Baltimore on Thursday.

SEEING RED: Minnesota and Cincinnati are playing each other for the 32nd, 33rd and 34th time in their history this week…the Twins are 15-17 all-time against the Reds, going 5-10 in Cincinnati (4-5 at Great American Ball Park and 1-5 at Cinergy Field) and 10-7 in Minnesota (3-5 at Target Field and 7-2 at the Metrodome). Kyle Farmer has played 211 career games at Great American Ball Park, 21st in the ballpark’s history…he has 162 career hits here, 25th most.

THE NL GUYS: The Twins have gone 21-20 in Interleague Play this season, going 1-2 at Miami, 1-2 vs. Washington, 2-1 vs. San Diego, 2-1 vs. Chicago-NL, 1-2 at Los Angeles-NL, 1-2 vs. San Francisco, 2-0 vs. Milwaukee, 0-3 at Atlanta, 2-1 at St. Louis, 3-0 vs. Arizona, 2-1 at Philadelphia, 2-1 vs. Pittsburgh, 0-2 at Milwaukee, 2-1 vs. New York-NL and 0-1 at Cincinnati…the Twins have gone 10-6 in their last 16 in IL Play and 14-10 in their last 24. After this series, Minnesota’s remaining 2023 IL schedule includes a trip to Colorado from September 29-October 1, to finish the regular season.

YOU LOOK STRIKING: Kenta Maeda struck out eight batters in his last start on Thursday at Chicago-AL, giving him 104 on the season…he became the fifth Twins pitcher to reach the 100-strikeout mark, tying a club record for a single season:

2023………………….5…………………………López – 221, Ryan – 181, Gray -171, Ober – 126, Maeda – 104
2019………………….5………………..Berríos – 195, Odorizzi – 178, Gibson – 160, Pineda – 140, Pérez – 135
1966………………….5…………………….. Kaat – 205, Boswell – 173, Merritt – 124, Perry – 122, Grant – 110
NOTE: Twins starters lead baseball with 901 strikeouts, ahead of Toronto’s 847…they are on pace to
strikeout 966 batters, which would land them 15th in baseball history.

THE ROOKIE ROLLS: Royce Lewis hit his 15th home run last night, the 13th rookie in club history (since 1961) to reach the 15-home run mark…below are the club’s all-time rookie home run leaders:

1) Jimmie Hall – 1963………33 7) Tom Brunansky – 1982 … 20 Jose Miranda – 2022……. 15
2) Tony Oliva – 1964………..32 8) Miguel Sanó – 2015…….. 18 14) Edouard Julien – 2023… 14
3) Gary Gaetti – 1982 ………25 9) Max Kepler – 2016………. 17 Ryan Jeffers – 2021……. 14
4) Marty Cordova – 1995 ….24 10) Rich Rollins – 1962 …… 16 Tim Teufel – 1984 ………. 14
5) Kent Hrbek – 1982……….23 11) Royce Lewis – 2023….. 15 Oswaldo Arcia – 2013…. 14
6) Bobby Darwin – 1972 …..22 Dan Ford – 1975 ……….. 15 18) 3 tied ……………………….. 13

ADDITIONALLY: Lewis has an at-bat-per-home run ratio of 14.27, the best in club history for a rookie, ahead of Jimmie Hall’s 1963 mark of 15.06.

ROYCE RULES THE ROAD: Royce Lewis has hit safely in nine-straight road games, hitting .441 (15-for-34) with five home runs, 18 RBI, a .537 on-base percentage, an .882 slugging percentage and a 1.419 OPS in that span…in 26 road games this season, Lewis has hit .373 (38-for-102) with 30 RBI and a 1.046 OPS.

RETURN OF THE MAX: Max Kepler has hit safely in a season-long seven-straight games, three short of his career high of 10, done twice in 2019…since the All-Star break, Kepler is hitting .302 (62-for-205) with 16 doubles, two triples, 10 home runs, 30 RBI, 20 walks, a .366 on-base percentage, a .546 slugging percentage and a .912 OPS in 57 games (Twins 32-25 in those games). Among all AL qualified players since the break, he ranks 12th in slugging percentage, 14th in OPS and 15th in batting average.

THIS ONE’S FOR ALL THE CORN: High-A Cedar Rapids beat Great Lakes on Sunday by a score of 10-6 in Game 1 of the Midwest League Championship…the Kernels will host Great Lakes tonight at 6:35 pm (CT) with a chance to win their first MWL Championship since 1994…Andrew Morris will start for the Kernels, opposite Justin Wrobleski.

2023: 5-7, 4.50 ERA CAREER: 64-48, 3.94 ERA

Making his 20th start and appearance of 2023, as well as his 12th road start…also his 189th career appearance and 155th start. Facing Cincinnati for the second time as a Twin and sixth time in his career…is 2-1, 4.62 ERA (25.1 IP, 13 ER) with one save, seven walks and 30 strikeouts in five prior appearances (4 starts) vs. the Reds. Is in his fourth season with the Twins after being acquired in 2020, along with Jair Camargo, from Los Angeles-NL in exchange for Brusdar Graterol and Luke Raley.

LAST TIME OUT: Earned his second-straight win and his fifth overall victory of 2023 on September 14 at Chicago-AL, a 10-2 Twins’ win…allowed two runs on four hits (1 HR) in a season-high-tying 7.0 in- nings pitched, with one walk and eight strikeouts, one shy of his season high (done thrice previously)…allowed just three singles through 6.0 innings pitched with seven strikeouts…issued a one-out walk to Yoán Moncada in the bottom of the seventh, then surrendered a two-run homer to Andrew Vaughn… was relieved by Josh Winder to start the bottom of the eighth with the Twins’ leading 6-2; Winder and Brent Headrick each fired 1.0 scoreless inning as Minnesota won the four-game series opener. Won consecutive starts for the first time since August 8, 2021 at Houston and August 14, 2021 vs. Tampa Bay. Threw 105 pitches, breaking the century mark for the first time this season and marking his most pitches in a single game since he threw 100 pitches on August 8, 2021 at Houston. Has yielded at least one home run in 11-consecutive starts, the longest streak of his career and the longest such streak by a Twins pitcher since Rick Aguilera in 1996 (12-game streak).

TWO STARTS AGO: Snapped a five-start streak without a victory, earning the win on September 9 vs. New York-NL in the Twins’ 8-4 victory at Target Field…pitched 5.1 innings and allowed two runs on five hits (1 HR), with one walk and two strikeouts…allowed a leadoff home run to Brandon Nimmo in the top of the first, the second leadoff homer he has allowed this year (also, April 20 at Boston – Alex Verdugo) and fifth of his career…fired 4.1 scoreless innings after yielding two runs in the first inning…was relieved by Kody Funderburk in the top of the sixth following a one-out walk to Daniel Vogelbach; Twins scored five runs off New York-NL’s bullpen as Minnesota claimed the series victory. Earned the win despite striking out just two batters, doing so for the first time in his career
as a starter.

RED ZONE: Facing Cincinnati for the sixth time in his career…is 2-1, 4.62 ERA (25.1 IP, 13 ER) with one save, seven walks and 30 strikeouts in five previous appearances (4 starts) vs. the Reds…last faced Cincinnati on August 3, 2021, his only appearance vs. the Reds with Minnesota…took a no-decision in the Twins’ 7-5 victory at Great American Ball Park; pitched 5.0 innings and allowed five runs on seven hits (3 HR), with one walk and nine strikeouts…allowed at least three home runs for the fifth time in his career. Seeking his first win against the Reds since April 16, 2019; pitched 6.2 innings and allowed one run on four hits, with three walks and five strikeouts, in a 6-1 Dodgers’ victory at Dodger Stadium. Earned his first career save on June 9, 2017 vs. Cincinnati, pitching the final 4.0 innings and allowing just one run in a 7-2 Dodgers’ win at Dodger Stadium…one of six career saves.

NATIONAL NEWS: In five starts vs. National League opponents this year, Maeda is 2-2, 3.08 ERA (26.1 IP, 9 ER) with five walks, 28 strikeouts and a .202 (19-for-94) opponent batting average…took the loss on April 4 at Miami and June 28 at Atlanta, earned the win on August 5 vs. Arizona, took a no-decision on August 23 at Milwaukee and won on September 9 vs. New York-NL…owns a 1.12 WHIP in 128 career appearances (98 starts) vs. the NL, the 12th-best WHIP in baseball since 2016 (min. 500.0 IP). Is 9-9, 4.11 ERA (138.0 IP, 63 ER) with 43 walks and 149 strikeouts in 29 career Interleague appearances (24 starts). In 28 career appearances (24 starts) vs. the NL Central, Maeda is 10-6 with a 4.11 ERA (140.0 IP, 64 ER), one save, 45 walks and 146 strikeouts.

ROAD TRIPPIN’: Making his 12th road start of the season tonight…is 2-5 with a 3.31 ERA (54.1 IP, 20 ER), 17 walks and 64 strikeouts in 11 road starts this year…his 10.60 strikeouts-per-9.0 innings ratio on the road ranks eighth in the American League in 2023 (min. 50.0 IP)…Twins have gone 1-4 his last five road starts despite Maeda posting a 3.54 ERA (28.0 IP, 11 ER)…is 3-2, 6.05 ERA (41.2 IP, 28 ER) with eight walks and 40 strikeouts in eight starts at Target Field this season. Is 1-0, 5.40 ERA (10.0 IP, 6 ER) with two walks and 14 strikeouts in two career starts at Great American Ball Park. In 101 career road appearances (85 starts), he is 28-27, 4.54 ERA (442.0 IP, 223 ER) with 141 walks and 483 strikeouts…is 36-21, 3.31 ERA (416.0 IP, 153 ER) with 104 walks and 455 strikeouts in 87 career home appearances (69 starts).

THE ARSENAL: Has used a five-pitch mix this year, mostly using his slider, split finger and 4-seam fastball, throwing the trio 90.1 percent of the time…favors his split finger (295/490 – 60.2%) against lefties and mostly uses his slider (297/484 – 61.4%) and sinker (98/99 – 99.0%) against righties… recorded six strikeouts with his split finger in his last start on September 14 at Chicago-AL, tied with three other outings for his single-game career high…here’s a breakdown of his repertoire:

Split Finger (84.1)……………. 31.5% (490 pitches, 195/295)………… .192 (24-for-125), 1 2B, 3 HR, 42 K Slider (81.7)……………………. 31.1% (484 pitches, 297/187)………. .242 (30-for-124), 11 2B, 9 HR, 36 K 4-Seam Fastball (91.0)…….. 27.5% (428 pitches, 203/225)….. .294 (25-for-85), 8 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 26 K Sinker (90.3) ……………………….. 6.4% (99 pitches, 98/1) ………………………. .400 (10-for-25), 1 2B, 1 HR Curveball (76.4)………………….. 3.5% (54 pitches, 10/44)…………………………………. .375 (3-for-8), 1 HR

Has averaged 91.3 mph on his four-seam fastball in his last eight starts, a 0.7-mph increase from his four-seam fastball average in his first 11 starts this season (90.6).



  • RHP Graham Ashcraft this afternoon is scheduled to have season-ending surgery to relieve a stress reaction in his right big toe.


  • Is Game 2 (1-0) of a 3-game series vs Sonny Gray’s first-place Twins and Game 2 (1-0) of a 7-day, 6-game homestand that includes Thu’s off day followed by a weekend series vs the Pirates. The Reds are coming off a 4-2 road trip (2-1 at Det, 2-1 at NYM). Following this homestand, the Reds will finish the season with a 5-game road trip to Cle’s Progressive Field (2g) and StL’s Busch Stadium (off day, 3g).


  • The Reds are 17-15 all-time vs the Twins, including 5-4 at Great American Ball Park. A 2-1 series win in April 2018 snapped a streak in which the Reds had lost
    9 consecutive interleague road series of at least 3 games, dating back to September 2013. With a 7-2 win at Target Field on 9/25/20, the Reds clinched their most
    recent Postseason berth, their first since 2013.


  • RHP Fernando Cruz is making his second start of the season and fourth start of his Major League career. Made his first start in the 11-inning, 8-7 win on 8/26 at AZ…allowed a leadoff triple to Corbin Carroll, who scored on a passed ball, but then retired his last 4 batters by strikeout. Made his first 2 career starts as an “opener” in 2022. Entered that 2022 season with 5 professional starts, all in 2015. Is 1 of 3 Reds relievers to make spots starts this season (Derek Law 3gs,
    Tejay Antone 1gs). More 2023 bio information is on Page 3 of these game notes.


  • Rookie pitchers have made 54 starts for the Reds. The Reds started a rookie pitcher in 12 in the last 16 games, a stretch that included 2 starts as “openers” by relievers RHP Tejay Antone and RHP Derek Law. RHP Lyon Richardson (4gs), who began the season at Class A Daytona, started twice. LHP Andrew Abbott (19gs), who began he season at Class AA Chattanooga, started 3 times. RHP Carson Spiers (2gs), who began the season at Class AA Chattanooga, started twice. LHP Brandon Williamson (21gs), who began the season at Class AAA Louisville, started twice. RHP Connor Phillips (3gs), who began the season at Class AA Chattanooga, started 3 times. Richardson, Abbott, Spiers, Williamson and Phillips made their Major League debuts this season, along with fellow starter RHP Levi Stoudt (2gs), who began the season at Class AAA Louisville.


  • 65 players have appeared in at least 1 game for the Reds, the most of any team in the Major Leagues this season and 1 player shy of the single-season club record established in 2022. 40 pitchers, including position players C Luke Maile (4 times) and IF Jason Vosler (twice), have appeared in at least 1 game for the Reds, a new single-season club record (38 pitchers, 2022). 17 pitchers have started at least 1 game for the Reds, tying the singleseason club record (2003, 2022)…17 starters tie the Dodgers for most in the National League…the Athletics lead the Major Leagues with 23 starters. The Reds have 9 rookies on today’s roster. RHP Fernando Cruz, IF Elly De La Cruz, IF Christian EncarnacionStrand, IF Noelvi Marte, IF/OF Spencer Steer, LHP Andrew Abbott, RHP Daniel Duarte, RHP Connor Phillips and LHP Brandon Williamson. Had a season-high 12 rookies on the 27-player roster for the 8/23 day/night doubleheader at LAA. 16 Reds players made their Major League debuts this season, the most of any team in the majors…listed below in the order in which they debuted: RHP Casey Legumina, RHP Levi Stoudt, IF Matt McLain, LHP Brandon Williamson, RHP Eduardo Salazar, OF TJ Hopkins, LHP Andrew Abbott, IF Elly De La Cruz, RHP Ricky Karcher, RHP Randy Wynne, RHP Jake Wong, IF Christian Encarnacion-Strand, RHP Lyon Richardson, IF Noelvi Marte, RHP Carson Spiers, RHP Connor Phillips. 23 rookies played in at least 1 game for the Reds, the most of any team in the Major Leagues and tied for fourth-most in club history (26 in 1909, 25 in 2016, 24 in 1914 & 2017, 23 in 2022)…courtesy @EliasSports.


  • With 58 HR the Reds have established a new franchise record for home runs in a season by rookies (Spencer Steer 22, Matt McLain 16, Elly De La Cruz 11, Christian Encarnacion-Strand 8, Noelvi Marte 1)…the 2008 team recorded 54 home runs by rookies (Joey Votto 24, Jay Bruce 21, Chris Dickerson 6, Ryan Hanigan 2, Paul Janish 1). The Reds are the first team in Major League history with 3 rookies, in a single season, with at least 10 HR & 10 stolen bases each (Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain, Spencer Steer). For the first time since 1890, when Cincinnati joined the NL, 3 Reds rookies have produced at least 10 HR. IF Matt McLain (5/22-5/28) and IF Elly De La Cruz (6/19-6/25) each earned National League Player of the Week awards, McLain in the second week of his career and De La Cruz in his third week.

Tonight’s Pitcher – #59 Ben Lively, RHP

  • Tonight is expected to pitch at some point behind “opener” RHP Fernando Cruz…made his last 2 apps in relief following separate stints on the IL with a right pectoral muscle strain (8/2-8/25) and then COVID-19 (9/1-9/13). Is 3-6, 5.48 in 12 starts and 1-1, 4.11 in 4 relief apps. Twice was on the 15-day injured list with the right pectoral muscle strain (6/24-7/8, 8/2-8/25). From 7/9-8/1, in 5 starts between stints on the injured lists with the right pectoral muscle strain went 0-3, 7.20 (25ip, 20er, .305baa). In his first appearance following his second stint on the IL with the muscle strain, on 8/26 at AZ, pitched in relief in the 11-inning, 8-7 win. Threw 5.2 innings, the most by a Reds pitcher out of the bullpen since David Holberg pitched 5.2 innings in a 5-0 win on 9/18/14 vs StL. In his most recent start for the Reds, a 20-9 loss on 8/1 at Cubs, allowed 13 hits and 13 runs, both career highs…his 4 HR allowed tied his career high. Returned to the injured list the next day. Became the first Reds pitcher to allow 13 runs in a game since Charles “King” Lear allowed 13 runs in 8.0 innings on 7/24/1915 at Philadelphia. Has been charged with 1 pitch timer violation (6/4 vs Mil, Owen Miller batting). Joined the Reds from Louisville on 5/9, when RHP Luis Cessa was designated for assignment. Made his Reds debut in the second inning of the 5-0 win on 5/11 vs NYM…relieved spot starter Derek Law and threw 3.0 scoreless innings…was his first Major League appearance since 4/28/19 for KC vs LAA, his only appearance of that season, and his first win since his last appearance of the 2017 campaign (9/27/19 for Phi vs NYM). His start on 5/19 vs the Yankees was his first start in the Major Leagues since since 4/26/18 for Phi vs Ari.
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