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Jun 8, 2024 2:15 am

Once again, Twins look to end a losing streak

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Leaving their perennial tormentors behind wasn’t enough for the Minnesota Twins to avoid extending another losing streak in their roller coaster season Friday night.

The Twins will look to snap their latest skid Saturday afternoon, when they visit the Pittsburgh Pirates in the middle game of a three-game interleague series.

Simeon Woods Richardson (2-0, 3.05 ERA) is slated to start for the Twins against fellow right-hander Carmen Mlodzinski (0-2, 6.75), who will serve as an opener.

The Pirates handed the Twins their fourth straight loss Friday night when Mitch Keller and a trio of relievers combined on an eight-hitter in a 3-0 win.

The shutout loss was the fourth of the season for the Twins but only their second sustained against someone other than the New York Yankees. Minnesota fell to the Kansas City Royals 11-0 on March 31, six weeks before the Yankees produced shutouts in consecutive games May 15-16.

New York then outscored the Twins 22-11 during a three-game sweep from Tuesday through Thursday. Minnesota went 0-6 against the Yankees this season and is 44-123 (counting 18 playoff games) against them since 2002.

However, the Friday defeat was another reminder of the Twins’ struggles to establish consistency this season. Minnesota has endured four losing streaks of at least four games but also won 12 in a row — the longest winning streak in the majors this year — from April 22 through May 4.

The Twins are also a combined 0-14 against the Yankees, Cleveland Guardians and Baltimore Orioles — the teams with the three best records in the American League. Minnesota is 33-16 against everyone else on its schedule.

“We just have to play better baseball, go out there with confidence, do our jobs and win — that’s it,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We haven’t beaten those teams. And you probably look at every other game we’ve played this year for the entire season and we’ve played our butts off in all those other games and played really well.”

Keller’s latest gem provided the Pirates a boost heading into what will likely be a bullpen game. The right-hander won his sixth straight start on Friday, allowing seven hits and walking two while striking out eight over six innings.

The six-start winning streak — during which Keller has lowered his ERA from 5.18 to 3.16 — is the longest by a Pirates pitcher since Gerrit Cole won six straight starts from May 22-June 18, 2015.

“I’ve been feeling pretty good,” Keller said. “The numbers just weren’t there in April.”

Woods Richardson didn’t factor into the decision on Sunday, when he gave up three runs over 4 1/3 innings in the Twins’ 4-3 road win over the Houston Astros. He has never opposed the Pirates.

Mlodzinski, who will be making his second career start, tossed a scoreless inning of relief Thursday, when the Pirates fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers 11-7. Mlodzinski allowed an unearned run over 1 1/3 innings as the opener in a 4-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks last July 9. He has never faced the Twins.

–Field Level Media

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