Friday, June 2, 2023
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MLB Preview: San Francisco Giants (22-24) at Minnesota Twins (25-22)


TODAY’S GAME: The Giants open their two-series road trip today in Minnesota…the road trip is SF’s first to a different time zone since May 1-3 at Houston.

AS CLOSE AS IT GETS: The all-time series between SF and Minnesota has been extremely close…each team has won nine games, with the Giants holding a +1 advantage in run differential…the +1 run differential is the second smallest among interleague teams that have played at least 15 times, trailing only the Rangers vs. Reds, who are even (Stats, LLC)… SF last came to Minnesota in 2022, getting swept by the Twins in a three game series from Aug. 26-28.

DO WE HAVE TO GO?: SF will try to exercise its road trip demons this series after a 5-1 homestand…the Giants have won 13 of their last 18 games at Oracle Park dating back to April 22…they’re 7-13 on the road in 2023, with their .350 winning percentage ranking 26th in the Majors…the Giants bullpen has particularly favored Oracle Park, posting a 1.33 ERA (4er, 27.0ip) over this past six-game homestand…that’s compared to their 9.24 ERA (13er, 12.2ip) during the four-game series at Arizona, and a 6.41 road ERA (52 er, 73.0ip) overall.

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT: With C Patrick Bailey making his MLB debut on Friday, and RHP Ryan Walker in winning fashion yesterday, the Giants have now had six different players make their MLB debut this season (also RHP Tristan Beck, C/OF Blake Sabol, IF Casey Schmitt and IF/OF Brett Wisely)…the only other teams with five or more this year are the A’s (seven) and Guardians (six)…last year, the Giants saw a total of nine players make their MLB debuts.

MORE ON THE ROOKIES: C Patrick Bailey’s first career hit on Saturday gave the Giants 21 different players with a hit this year, which is the most in the Majors (Stats, LLC)…the only other team with at least 20 is Pittsburgh…of those 21 Giants, 15 have home runs, with five rookies notching their first career big flies (Bailey, IF Casey Schmitt, IF/OF Brett Wisely, C/OF Blake Sabol and OF Bryce Johnson).

HE GETS ON BASE: Former Twins prospect IF/OF LaMonte Wade Jr. has excelled at the top of SF’s lineup this season as depicted in the chart below. LaMonte Wade Jr., FanGraphs’ Advanced Stats (MLB, Qualified)

Stat No. Rank BB% 19.8% 2nd
OBP .425 4th
OPS .901 13th
Stat No. Rank
BB/K 1.10 6th
wOBA .399 9th
wRC+ 155 9th

HE DRIVES THEM IN: C/OF Blake Sabol has stepped up with ducks on the pond…the rookie has the third-highest slugging percentage (.667) with runners on base in the NL per Stats, LLC (min. 35 plate appearances with runners on)…Sabol has a 1.092 OPS with runners on-base compared to a .619 mark with no one on.

WHO BLINKS FIRST: Giants pitchers lead the Majors with a 49.7% ground ball rate…Minnesota hitters have the third-lowest ground ball rate (39.3%)…when the Giants do allow fly balls, it’s leaving the yard at a league-leading rate, with an MLB-high 15.6 HR/FB…Minnesota hitters have a 14.2% HR/ FB, which is the eighth-best mark.

HISTORIC START: With his sixth career multi-hit game yesterday, IF Casey Schmitt is tied for the third most hits by a Giant in his first 12 MLB games (18)…he is just the second Giant to have at least 18 hits and nine RBI through his first 12 games, the other being Johnny Vergez in 1931 (Stats, LLC). Giants, Most Hits Through First 12 Games of Career – Since 1901

Player Hits
Al Gallagher (1970) 21
Johnny Vergez (1931) 19
Casey Schmitt (2023) 18
Player Hits
Sammy Strang (1901) 18
Austin Slater (2017) 17
Willie McCovey (1959) 17

HE’S JUST THE OPENER: RHP John Brebbia will make his third start this season as SF’s opener today, and the 14th of his career…in his last start, Brebbia struck out two in a shutout inning at Arizona on May 12…normally a reliever, Brebbia has a 0.68 ERA (1er, 13.1ip), 11 strikeouts and a 1.05 WHIP as an opener in his career with the Giants going 8-5.

HALL OF FRAME: C Patrick Bailey is already establishing himself as an elite pitch framer with 13 pitches that were outside of the strike zone called strikes (Sports Info Solutions)…albeit a small sample size (three games), according to Statcast, Bailey’s 4.0% rate of stealing strikes is the best in the Majors.

RIGHT ON: The Giants 50 home runs vs. right-handers this season are tied with Minnesota for fourth-most in the Majors… SF also ranks inside the top-10 in the Majors vs. righties in slugging percentage (.432, 7th) and OPS (.759, 8th)… Minnesota has allowed just 14 homers to lefties this year, tied for the third-fewest in MLB, while their .219 opposing batting average against lefties is fifth-best.

MICHAEL CON-FUERTE: OF Michael Conforto is batting .324 (12×37) with four home runs, nine RBI and a 1.042 OPS since May 10…those numbers might continue the upward trajectory given the outfielder’s history of success vs. the AL Central, particularly the Twins…since 1995, Conforto’s 1.027 OPS is the sixth-best OPS vs. the division (min. 125 plate appearances) per Stats, LLC…in his small six-game history vs. the Twins, Conforto is 10-for-20 with a 1.265 OPS, his best against any team he’s faced at least five times.

CA-MAY-LO: RHP Camilo Doval earned 12th save of the season yesterday and an MLB-leading ninth this month… he has 13 saves the last two Mays, which is the most in the Majors…Doval currently leads the National League this year in both saves (12) and games finished (20) with just one blown save.


THE TWINS: Completed their road-trip yesterday afternoon with a record of 2-4, going 1-2 at Dodger Stadium from Monday-Wednesday and 1-2 at Angel Stadium over the weekend…starting tonight, Minnesota will begin a six-game, seven-day homestand with three against the San Francisco Giants through Wednesday, followed by an off-day on Thursday, then three against the Toronto Blue Jays over the weekend…the Twins have gone 14-8 at Target Field and 11-14 on the road.

The Twins have gone 6-1-0 in series play at Target Field…they have not lost back-to-back home games since April 21-22, going 10-4 here since.

SHO TIME SPOILS PABLO DAY IN FINALE: The Twins lost to the Angels yesterday in Anaheim by a score of 4-2, making them 1-6-1 in road series play this season…Pablo Lopez (2-3) was the starter and loser, allowing two runs on five hits in 6.0-plus innings, with three walks and nine strikeouts…the offense recorded seven hits, three from Willi Castro…Carlos Correa had the club’s first RBI with a third-inning double and Alex Kirilloff drove in the second run with a solo home run in the eighth inning, his third home run this season.

WE WERE GIANTS: The Twins and Giants are playing each other for the 19th time in their history tonight…the Twins are 9-9 all-time against San Francisco, going 3-0 at Target Field, 5-7 at Oracle Park and 1-2 at the Metrodome…dating back to 2017, the Twins have won five of their last six over the Giants.

These two teams last met for a three-game series at Target Field from August 26-28, 2022 as the Twins swept the series, outscoring San Francisco 20-5…entering that series, the Giants were the last of the 29 major league opponents to appear at the Twins’ ballpark, which opened in 2010.

The 18 games played against the Giants are tied with Colorado for the Twins’ fewest against any major league opponent in their history (since 1961).

Rocco Baldelli and Gabe Kapler were teammates for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010.

Donovan Solano played three seasons with the Giants from 2019-21, hitting .308 (219- for-712) with 45 doubles, 14 home runs, 83 RBI and 84 runs scored in 236 games and won a Louisville Silver Slugger Award in 2020…Solano believes his nickname “Donnie Barrels” came from Giants teammate Mike Yastrzemski who started calling him “Donnie Ballgame”…then, some teammates started asking how he got the barrel of the bat on the ball, and somehow the name became “Donnie Barrels.”

ROGER THAT: Giants reliever Taylor Rogers was drafted by the Twins in the 11th round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft…Rog played parts of six seasons with the Twins from 2016-21 and was named an AL All-Star in 2021 in his hometown of Denver, Colorado…in 319 games as a Twin, he posted a 3.15 ERA, saved 50 games and recorded 77 holds…he ranks fifth on the club’s all-time list in holds and 11th in saves…he and Eddie Guardado are the only pitchers in club history with at least 50 career saves and at least 50 career holds.

THE OTHER GUYS:The Twins have gone 7-8 in Interleague Play this season, going 1-2 at Miami, 1-2 vs. Washington, 2-1 vs. San Diego, 2-1 vs. Chicago-NL and 1-2 vs. Los Angeles-NL…they have gone 6-4 in their last 10 vs. the NL after starting the season 1-4…after this series, the Twins’ next NL opponent will be the Brewers for two games at Target Field from June 13-14.

Twins have the seventh most wins in Interleague Play history at 257 (list lower right).

Carlos Correa is hitting .357 (25-for-70) with seven walks, a .410 on-base percentage and a .953 OPS in 18 home games in IL Play since the start of 2022.

GETTING OFFENSIVE: The Twins have 88 hits in their last seven games (11 H/G), 36 going for extra-bases (.523 SLG)…below are the Twins first 39 games from March 30-May 12 and their last eight games since May 13:

FIRST 39 .218 4.2 281 58 47 157 131 367 .298 .381 .679
LAST 8 .293 6.9 88 19 16 52 33 91 .371 .523 .894
NOTE: Since May 13, the Twins lead baseball in OPS (.894), on-base percentage (.371) and slugging percentage (.523), rank second in hits (88) and third in batting average (.293).

AK NOT JUST OK: Alex Kirilloff has reached base safely in eight-straight games since May 13, hitting .355 (11-for-31) with a .394 on-base percentage in that span…it marks the third longest on-base streak of his career, having previously reached in 12-straight (June 4-18, 2021) and nine-straight twice (July 10-24, 2022 & April 26-May 22, 2021)…since being recalled from Triple-A St. Paul on May 5, Kirilloff has hit .341 (15-for-44) with three doubles, three home runs, six RBI, six walks, a .442 on-base percentage and an 1.056 OPS in 14 games.

Against right-handed pitching this season, he is hitting .361 (13-for-36) with six walks, a .465 on-base percentage and a 1.076 OPS…against lefties, he is hitting .250 (2-for-8).

C4 STARTING TO FEEL IT: Carlos Correa has reached safely in each of his last 11 games, hitting just .268 (11-for-41) in that span, but has a .400 on-base percentage (11 hits & 9 walks) with five doubles, one home run and nine RBI…Correa’s long for an on-base streak in 2023 is 11, from May 10-21…his career-long is 27, from June 10-July 15, 2017 with Houston.

LAND OF 10,000 RAKES: Twins have homered in eight-straight games (since May 13), hitting 16 in that span…it marks their second-longest streak of the season after homering in a franchise-record 18-straight from April 18-May 6…they have 63 home runs on the season, tied with Texas for seventh most in baseball, trailing Tampa Bay (91), Atlanta (77), Los Angeles-NL (76), New York-AL (73), St. Louis (67) and San Francisco (65).

BUCK TRUCK REVVING THE ENGINE: Byron Buxton has reached safely in a career-long 21-straight games, since April 25…Buxton’s current streak is the longest for a Twin since Jorge Polanco reached safely in 37-straight from May 13-June 25, 2019.

In his last six games, Buxton is hitting .348 (8-for-23) with two doubles, one home run, two RBI, four walks, eight runs scored, two stolen bases, a .444 on-base percentage, a .565 slugging percentage and a 1.010 OPS.

WILLI GOIN’ WILD: Willi Castro has hit safely in 10 consecutive starts, a streak that goes back to April 30…in that span, he is hitting .342 (13-for-38) with three doubles, one home run, four RBI and five stolen bases (1 caught)…at the start of the streak, he was hitting .115 and now sits at .250, raising his batting average 135 points.

Aside from one pitching appearance, Castro has played six different defensive positions this season: leftfield – 13 games (8 starts), third base – 9 games (6 starts), shortstop – 7 games (0 starts), second base – 5 games (3 starts), centerfield – 4 games (1 start) and right-field – 2 games (1 start).

2023: 3-0, 1.78 ERA CAREER: 8-6, 3.48 ERA

Making his sixth start of the season and fourth home start…also his 37th career start and appearance.

Facing the Giants for the first time in his career…is 2-2, 3.92 ERA (66.2 IP, 29 ER) with 15 walks and 66 strikeouts when facing an opponent for the first time.

Began season with Triple-A St. Paul and was recalled when Kenta Maeda landed on the IL…since being inserted into the rotation, the Twins have gone 4-1 in his five starts for an .800 winning percentage, the highest behind any Twins starter.

Selected by the Twins in the 12th round of the 2017 First-Year Player Draft out of the College of Charleston.

LAST START: Earned his third win of the season in a 5-1 Twins victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 16 at Dodger Stadium; his third-consecutive quality start of the season…pitched 6.0 innings, allowing one run on six hits, with one walk and six strikeouts, opposite Clayton Kershaw…tossed a career-high 102 pitches…yielded his lone run via an RBI single by infielder Freddie Freeman in the fifth inning…relieved by Brock Stewart in the seventh inning as the bullpen combined to pitch 3.0 scoreless innings…marked the first Twins victory at Dodger Stadium since June 11, 2005 in a 5-3 win.

Fanned six batters in four-straight starts, the longest streak of his career.

Brought his career strikeout total to 175…owns the fifth-most strikeouts through a pitcher’s first 36 games in Twins history (1961-present), behind Joe Ryan (210), Bert Blyleven (192), Francisco Liriano (184) and Boof Bonser (179).

TWO STARTS AGO: Did not factor into the decision in a 5-3 Twins victory against the San Diego Padres on May 11 at Target Field, despite recording his second quality start of the season…pitched 6.0 innings, allowed a season-high three runs on six hits, with no walks and six strikeouts opposite Yu Darvish…marked the first time Ober recorded back-to-back quality starts in his career…allowed his second leadoff home run of his career to outfielder Fernando Tatis Jr. on the first pitch of the game, yielded an RBI double to outfielder Juan Soto in the fourth inning and permitted a solo home run to infielder Rougned Odor in the fifth inning…relieved by Emilio Pagán in the seventh inning as the bullpen combined to pitch 3.0 scoreless innings…the Twins came from behind in the seventh inning to secure the win with an RBI groundout by Max Kepler off Brent Honeywell and a two-RBI double by Carlos Correa off Steven Wilson.

OBER VS. SAN FRANCISCO: Facing the Giants for the first time in his career…making his sixth career Interleague start, fourth this season…is 2-0, 2.55 ERA (17.2 IP, 5 ER) with four walks and 16 strikeouts in three Interleague starts this season (2-0, 3.46 ERA (26.0 IP, 10 ER) with seven walks and 24 strikeouts in five career Interleague starts)…San Francisco will be the 15th team he has faced since his major league debut on May 18, 2021…in 14 career starts when facing an opponent for the first time, Ober is 2-2, 3.92 ERA (66.2 IP, 29 ER) with 15 walks and 66 strikeouts…San Francisco outfielder Mitch Haniger is the only active Giants hitter to previously face Ober…Haniger is 2-for-4 with one home run and two strikeouts across two games against Ober as a member of the Seattle Mariners.

Ranks 12th for the lowest ERA in Interleague games this season (min. 15.0 IP).

NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Ober is making his fourth home start of the season, 19th of his career…in three home starts is season, Ober is 1-0, 2.60 ERA (17.1 IP, 5 ER) with five walks and 16 strikeouts… is 5-1, 3.63 ERA (89.1 IP, 36 ER) with 22 walks and 93 strikeouts in 18 career home starts…Twins have gone 12-6 in his home starts.

Currently holding a four-game win streak at Target Field, dating back to September 24, 2021…is 4-0, 2.89 ERA (46.2 IP, 15 ER) with 11 walks and 50 strikeouts in the nine-game span…took his last loss at home on August 17, 2021 vs. Cleveland.

THE RIGHT STUFF: Right-handed hitters are batting .180 (9-for-50) with 15 strikeouts and one RBI against Ober after five starts this season…left-handed hitters are hitting .220 (13-for-59) with 13 strikeouts and five RBI…in his career, right-handed hitters are batting .217/.238/.410 with 104 strikeouts against Ober…lefties are hitting .266/.328/.435 with 71 strikeouts off him.

Tied for ninth for the lowest opponent batting average against righties in the American League (min. 14.0 IP)…his .196 opponent OBP against righties is tied for sixth lowest in all of baseball.

ARSENAL: Ober used a four-pitch mix in his five starts of the 2023 season, per Baseball Savant…three of Ober’s six strikeouts in his last start on May 16 came from his changeup…threw 49 fastballs in his last start…mostly uses his slider (85 pitches) against righties while relying on his changeup (82 pitches) and curveball (39 pitches) against lefties…here’s a look at his repertoire:

4-Seam Fastball (91.6)….47.6% (222 pitches, 92/130) …………… .184 (9-for-49), 4 2B, 1 HR, 12 K
Slider (81.8)………………….21.5% (100 pitches, 85/15) ……………… .192 (5-for-26), 2 2B, 1 HR, 9 K
Changeup (83.8)……………21.5% (100 pitches, 18/82) ……………………… .250 (6-for-24), 2 2B, 5 K
Curveball (78.2)……………….9.4% (44 pitches, 5/39) ………………………… .200 (2-for-10), 1 2B, 2 K

Ober ranks 13th for the lowest opponent batting average against a fastball in the American League (min. 400 pitches).

ACROSS THE RIVER: In his four starts with Triple-A Saint Paul this season, Ober went 2-1, 2.55 ERA (17.2 IP, 5 ER) with six walks and 22 strikeouts…in his last start with the Saints on April 18, earned the win in 6-0 Saint Paul victory versus Scranton/Wilkes-Barre…pitched 5.0 scoreless innings, allowed three hits, walked one batter and fanned six.

NIGHT SHIFT: Ober is making his third night start of the season tonight…is 2-0, 0.69 ERA (13.0 IP, 1 ER) with two walks and 12 strikeouts in his two previous night starts this season…is 5-4, 3.26 ERA (105.0 IP, 38 ER) with 18 walks and 111 strikeouts in 21 career night starts…ranks third for the most strikeouts through their first 21 night games with the Twins (min. 100.0 IP), trailing Joe Ryan (135) and Bert Blyleven (113).

Ranks fifth in the American League for the lowest night ERA this season, ninth in all of baseball (min. 10 IP).

Leather Head Sports

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