MLB: Twins looking to strike down Diamondbacks

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Joe Ryan will attempt to continue the streak of dominant Minnesota pitching performances when the Twins face the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night in the opener of a three-game series at Phoenix.

Bailey Ober retired the final 17 batters during a complete-game victory against Oakland on Saturday and Pablo Lopez retired the first 17 Athletics while striking out 14 over eight shutout innings on Sunday.

The 34 consecutive batters retired set a Minnesota record.

“If it’s an all-time Twins record, it’s quite amazing, so it felt good,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said.

Ryan (5-5, 3.13 ERA) has been pitching well for the Twins, who have won 12 of their past 16 games. He is 3-2 with a 2.54 ERA over his past six starts and has allowed two runs or less in five of them.

He received a no-decision against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday when he gave up one run and six hits over six innings.

Ryan’s bad outing during the stretch was his worst of the season. He served up four homers while allowing five runs and eight hits in five innings during a June 1 loss to the Houston Astros.

Ryan, 28, has never faced the Diamondbacks, who just completed a 3-3 road trip against the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies.

Arizona won three of the first four games before losing 12-1 and 4-1 to the Phillies to conclude the excursion. Philadelphia starters Zack Wheeler and Christopher Sanchez shut down the Diamondbacks’ offense.

“When you have guys like Wheeler, and when Sanchez was throwing the ball effectively like he has been, I’m not going to dwell on it,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said of the struggles. “Certainly there are some things I wish we did differently. When you have (opponents) that are throwing the ball that well, that happens.

“It’s always a concern when we lose games when we don’t hit. It’s a concern when we lose games and we don’t pitch. And that’s my job. We have to find out what’s going on. We have to make sure we are pushing in the right direction, which I’m sure we are.”

Arizona scored five runs in each of its three wins during the trip and just one in each of the three setbacks.

Ketel Marte had an RBI single for the lone Diamondbacks’ run on Sunday.

Outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. has recorded five consecutive two-hit games. He sat out Saturday’s game due to elbow soreness and returned to the lineup Sunday to have two of Arizona’s six hits.

Right-hander Brandon Pfaadt (3-6, 4.37) will start the opener for the Diamondbacks.

Pfaadt has lost three of his past four decisions and has a 4.99 ERA over his past five outings. He lost to the Washington Nationals on Wednesday when he gave up three runs and five hits over 6 1/3 innings.

Pfaadt, 25, has never faced the Twins.

Pfaadt and the other Arizona pitchers will certainly be paying attention when Minnesota’s Royce Lewis steps to the plate.

Lewis, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft by the Twins, is batting .328 with nine homers in June since recovering from a quadriceps injury sustained on Opening Day.

Lewis was 7-for-16 with three homers and three walks in a four-game stretch before going 0-for-4 against Oakland on Sunday.

Arizona’s Tucker Barnhart, slated to receive more playing time with starting catcher Gabriel Moreno (thumb) on the 10-day injured list, is 3-for-7 against Ryan.

–Field Level Media

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