After wrapping up a road trip within the division, the Twins are back at Target Field this week, opening their homestand with a midweek three-game set against the defending World Series champs.
One of the most storied franchises in baseball, Boston is always a hot ticket, and should provide a good test for a Twins team that is trying to fend off regression after an impressive start.
Early on, the Sox haven't looked quite as good as they did last year, when they led the American League with 97 wins on their way to a championship, but they're just a couple games behind first-place Baltimore and have plenty of good things going on.
Some of those things will seem familiar.
The Boston lineup features two former Twins who continue to defy age as they make key contributions.
One is David Ortiz. We all know the story: As soon as Big Papi left Minnesota he blossomed into one of the best designated hitters in MLB history.
He's still getting it done at age 38, batting .267/.370/.481 with seven homers and 19 RBI in 35 games. He has really been heating up in the month of May, with a .308 average and .977 OPS, so Twins pitchers will need to be very careful.
Of course, Ortiz anchoring the Boston lineup is nothing new. He's been crushing baseballs at Fenway for more than a decade. We're less accustomed to seeing A.J. Piezynski behind the plate. The veteran backstop chose the Sox over the Twins as a free agent and has started 25 of the club's first 37 games at catcher.
Pierzynski's production has been fairly modest -- .277/.318/.396 with three homers and 18 RBI -- but the fact that he continues to catch regularly while holding his own at the plate is impressive. This is a 37-year-old who entered the season with nearly 1,600 career starts at catcher.
Boo him all you want; Pieryznski is the model of durability at a position where staying healthy can be tough.
What's the Best Ticket?
The weather forecast currently looks the same for all three games this week: cloudy and cool, but dry. We're looking at highs in the upper-50s with only a small chance of rain each day. After some of the early-season weather we've seen, I'll take that.
Since weather probably won't be guiding your decisions, let's preview the pitching match-ups to figure out which is the best ticket at Target Field against the Red Sox.
Tuesday's game will have Ricky Nolasco facing off against Felix Doubront. This is a reasonably favorable match-up for Twins, so if you want to take in a win, it's not a bad bet. Nolasco had a forgettable first month with the new cap but has excelled since the calendar flipped to May, with two quality starts and a 15-to-2 K/BB ratio in 17 innings. Doubront has been rocky overall, with a 5.09 ERA and 1.56 WHIP.
Wednesday's game will be tough. The Twins will send Kevin Correia, who has been brutal. Opposing him will be Jake Peavy, who has been quite effective for the Red Sox despite some control problems. This is a big game for Correia, who's got to be on thin ice.
I think my favorite pick for this series is Thursday's tilt. It's a day game, so it will likely be the warmest of the three, and you'll get the chance to see Minnesota's best (and hottest) starter on the mound. Phil Hughes has been outstanding over his last four starts, in which he's 4-0 with a 2.05 ERA. Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz has been off-and-on this year, but usually more off than on as illustrated by a bloated 6.44 ERA.
Boston's a strong team, no doubt. But their only visit to Target Field this year comes with good timing. In this series, the Twins will miss arguably their two best starters (Jon Lester and John Lackey).
With their rich tradition and star power, the Red Sox are always a team that baseball fans go out of their way to see when in town. Through Ticket King, you can find some great values for this series. I'm seeing tickets as low as $4 for Tuesday night's contest. There are some lower-deck seats in the $20-30 range for Wednesday night. And there are tons of tickets under $10 for Thursday's game if you can skip out of work early. 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 supplier, Ticket King, can help.