That's the Ticket: Indian Summer
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Sorry for waxing poetic, but… July in Minnesota. There's hardly anything better.
Remember when going to catch a ballgame meant filing into a stuffy Dome and missing out on these glorious summer nights? It wasn't so long ago. Weeks like this are what Target Field was built for.
There is an added level of baseball drama -- that being the team's desperate need to embark on a "miraculous run."
Getting swept by the last-place Rays was a disastrous start to a crucially important homestand. Now, the reeling Twins need to damn near win out in the next two series to avoid being irrelevant at the trade deadline.
Here's what Terry Ryan said at the start of the season:
"But we need to take a step forward," he said. "We need to be playing competitive baseball and hopefully meaningful games in August and September."
Unless they start winning fast, the Twins are going to fall short of that relatively modest goal. There's really no margin for error left after this past weekend. They're going to have their work cut out for them.
Here Come the Indians
This team is hot. Cleveland hasn't lost a series since June, and just took three of four from the Tigers in Detroit to move within 5 1/2 games of first place.
The Indians' success has been driven, in large part, by intriguing young arms, and we'll see a few on display at Target Field this week.
The Twins will counter with… well, that's not 100 percent clear. Let's take a look at the match-ups and see which game might be the best ticket during a hot summer week at Target Field.
Monday, 7:10 PM: T.J. House vs. Kris Johnson
Forecast: Mostly sunny, high of 93
The bad news is that Johnson hasn't looked very good in either of his two starts for the Twins; he failed to complete five innings in both. The good news is that the rookie House hasn't been great either -- especially on the road where he's 0-2 with a 4.79 ERA and 1.56 WHIP.
If the Twins can get a decent outing from Johnson, who had a 2.75 ERA in Triple-A before being called up, they'll stand a good chance of coming away with a win in the series opener. Search for seats in the shade because the sun will likely be hot in the early innings.
Tuesday, 7:10 PM: Danny Salazar vs. ???
Forecast: Partly cloudy, high of 84
Salazar has an electric arm, and he racks up tons of strikeouts but is susceptible to the long ball. He was sent to the minors in May with a 5.53 ERA, but he's making his return now after a strong run at Triple-A.
If the Twins have announced anywhere who they plan to have starting on Tuesday night, I haven't seen it. It might be Yohan Pino, who's been decent enough in his last couple starts in the majors and is on track after pitching in Triple-A Thursday, but he issued seven walks in that outing. Yuck.
Trevor May pitched on Saturday, so he'd be on short rest, but he was removed from that start after three innings and 47 pitches. Hmm...
It would be something if May gets the nod. "No pressure kid, we just really, really need to win. Like, really bad."
Wednesday, 12:10 PM: Trevor Bauer vs. Kyle Gibson
Forecast: Partly cloudy, high of 80
This is the stand-out pitching match-up, from my view. Bauer is the uber-talented young right-hander that Cleveland acquired in the Shin-Soo Choo deal. He has looked good in 13 starts, turning in a 3.89 ERA and 75-to-28 K/BB ratio over 78 innings.
Gibson has, of course, been very hot-and-cold, alternating between clunkers and gems. He has faced the Tribe twice this year and has allowed only one run total in 12 innings.
This should be a good tilt on what figures to be a beautiful Wednesday afternoon, and is my choice for best ticket of the series, though you might need to play hooky from work to attend.
[/HR]If you want to cheer on the Twins and enjoy some great weather at Target Field, you'll have the opportunity to do so at a pretty reasonable price this week. Monday's game has plenty of tickets available for under 10 bucks. On Tuesday I see some tickets for $16 in the Home Run Porch, which might be a cool spot to sit with the homer-prone Salazar on the hill. And if you can make it out to the day game on Wednesday, there are some good deals available for lower-deck seats. All are an even better deal if you use the promo code DAILYDOUBLE, which will get you 10% off and supports Twins Daily. Whatever your needs, your local ticket broker, Ticket King, can help.