The Braves’ August schedule is filled with sub-.500 teams, with two notable exceptions - one of which being the Dodgers, who come to SunTrust Park in 11 days; the other being the Minnesota Twins, with whom the Braves will begin a three-game series tonight.
The 66-47 Braves lead the NL East by seven games; the 69-42 Twins lead the AL Central by three. Minnesota is one of five teams in all of baseball with a better record than the Braves, and one of four teams with a winning percentage over .600.
The Twins have been one of baseball’s most prolific offenses, averaging 5.78 runs per game. Their behemoth lineup will be a great test for the Braves’ pitching staff. Every member of the Twins’ starting lineup has at least 10 home runs, and two of them - Max Kepler and Nelson Cruz (who has homered three times in a game twice in the last two weeks) - have hit 30. Just last week, they became the fastest team to make it to 200 home runs in a season, besting the 2005 Rangers’ mark by 19 games. They have 217 long balls on the season.
Suffice it to say, Mike Soroka is going to have to bring his A-game. Soroka is the Braves hurler who is best suited to mute this loud Twins offense, bringing his 10-2 record and his 2.37 ERA | 3.17 FIP to the table. Most importantly, he has only allowed six home runs in 114 innings (0.47 HR/9), and tends to keep the ball out of the air. If he can do that, he’ll set himself up for success and make the Twins work for it.
The Braves are no slouch offensively either, putting up 5.3 runs per game and ranking seventh in baseball with 176 home runs as a squad. It won’t necessarily be an easy task for Jake Odorizzi, who will take the hill for the Twins. He is 12-5 on the season with a 3.73 ERA | 3.92 FIP. He is a bit more prone to surrendering the home run ball than Soroka (1.16 HR/9), and only 32.5% of his batted balls allowed are on the ground, so it would behoove the Braves to go for the old “elevate and celebrate” routine.
The Twins have not fared particularly well against interleague foes, going 5-7. The Braves have gone 4-4 in games against the American League, and will have the benefit of adding a designated hitter for the next three games.
Both the Braves and the Twins are 29-24 against teams with records over .500.
Game Date/Time: Monday, August 5, 8:10 PM ET
Location: Target Field, Minneapolis, MN
TV: Fox Sports Southeast
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, Rock 100.5, Braves Radio Network