RED SOX (39-32) AT TWINS (47-23)
8:10 p.m. ET; FSNO, NESN, MLB.TV
The defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox are a season-best five games above .500.
The Red Sox will try to stretch their winning streak to a season-long six games when they open a three-game series on Monday against the host Minnesota Twins, owners of the best record in the majors.
Minnesota (47-23) has been surprisingly strong this season under first-year manager Rocco Baldelli. The Twins need to go 7-4 over the next 11 games to equal the top midseason record (54-27) in franchise history, set by the 1970 squad that finished 98-64.
Minnesota has won seven of its past 10 games despite falling 8-6 to the visiting Kansas City Royals on Sunday.
“The biggest thing is that we’re in first place,” third baseman Miguel Sano said of a squad with a 10-game lead over the Cleveland Indians($9) in the American League Central. “We can lose one game if we’re going to win five, seven games.
“This is the best team I’ve seen in my life, and we don’t have any pressure about anything. We’re really good.”
The Twins lead the majors with 137 homers after Sano and Nelson Cruz hit solo shots on Sunday.
The Red Sox (39-34) are on the upswing after a shaky start.
Boston stumbled out of the gate with a 6-13 stretch and appeared to right itself with a 16-6 run. But the club fell back to .500 on two occasions before the recent five-game spurt in which it outscored the Texas Rangers($11) and Baltimore Orioles($18) 39-19.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora isn’t a fan of the perception that his third-place team is well off the pace of last year’s championship club.
“People forget that we were in second place last year on June 20-something,” Cora told reporters. “We’re in third place. I know where we’re at, but we’ll be fine.”
Porcello (4-6, 4.69 ERA) is 0-2 over his last three starts, allowing 11 runs and 22 hits in 17 1/3 innings during the stretch.
The 30-year-old also has struggled on the road. He is 0-3 with a 6.37 ERA and .315 batting average against in six away outings.
Porcello is 12-10 with a 3.83 ERA in 31 career starts against the Twins. He has enjoyed success against Eddie Rosario (2-for-18) and Cruz (6-for-36, one homer).
Berrios (8-2, 3.01) has allowed one earned run in three of his past four starts.
The 25-year-old Berrios has pitched well at Target Field, going 5-1 with a 2.53 ERA in seven starts.
Berrios has never defeated the Red Sox. He is 0-2 with a 4.15 ERA in three career outings.
Benintendi was held out of Sunday’s 8-6, 10-inning win over the Orioles due to soreness in his left quadriceps.
“Just felt sore, nothing serious,” Cora said while indicating he expects Benintendi to be available on Monday.
Meanwhile, Baldelli hopes his team’s typical-stellar defense returns for the final set of a nine-game homestand.
The Twins had just 32 miscues entering the homestand but have committed 10 in the past five games. Minnesota committed five errors in the final two games of the series against the Royals and made five against the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday.
“It was not our sharpest effort,” Baldelli said after Sunday’s game. “If you look at each one of those plays, they’re plays we want to make and we have to make going forward but they’re not the easiest of plays.”
–Field Level Media