Twins Want Revenge

Coming off a sweep of an AL Central rival, Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire insists his players won't have revenge on their minds when they face the Oakland Athletics at McAfee Coliseum on Friday.

It will be the first meeting between the clubs since the A's swept Minnesota in last year's AL division series, with the clincher coming in Oakland on Oct. 6.

Oddsmakers have made Oakland -130 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 8.5 total runs (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 63% of bets for this game have been placed on Minnesota +120 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

The A's outscored the Twins 16-7 and posted a 2.33 ERA in the three games.

"They just outplayed us in the playoffs, but that's over with," Gardenhire told the Twins' official Web site. "We're going to go out there and continue to try and win series."

Minnesota (27-25) has been keenly focused on that task of late, rallying for a 7-6 win over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday for a three-game sweep and a 5-1 homestand. The Twins, winners of seven of eight and nine of 12, will look to extend their season-high winning streak to five games.

Torii Hunter was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth Wednesday as the Twins capped a comeback from a 6-1 deficit. Minnesota outscored Chicago 26-14 in the series.

Hunter is batting .318 and went 5-for-11 with four RBIs against the White Sox, while Michael Cuddyer had two hits in the series finale and went 6-for-11 with five runs in the three games.

"We feel pretty good right now," said Minnesota's Justin Morneau, who hit .314 (11-for-35) with three homers against Oakland last season.

Reigning AL batting champ Joe Mauer won't be in the lineup Friday. Mauer is eligible to be activated from the disabled list, but is still experiencing soreness from a strained left quadriceps.

"Obviously he's not going to be activated Friday," Gardenhire said of Mauer, who's batting .353. "We're just going to keep pushing it back and I'll see where he's at Friday."

Kevin Slowey will take the mound in his major league debut for the Twins on Friday. The right-hander, Minnesota's second-round pick in 2005, was 6-2 with a 1.54 ERA and three complete games in nine starts for Triple-A Rochester.

"He's a command guy," Gardenhire said. "He throws strikes. His fastball is 91-92 mph and he can throw all of his pitches at any time."

Slowey will get the start in place of veteran Ramon Ortiz, who was moved to the bullpen following a rough stretch of outings. Ortiz is 0-4 with 8.13 ERA in his last seven starts after beginning the season 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA.

Though Minnesota went 6-4 against Oakland in 2006, the A's won three of four at the Coliseum - where they just took two of three from Texas.

Oakland (26-26), 2-3 in its last five, won 6-1 on Wednesday. Dan Johnson drove in three runs and Milton Bradley went 2-for-4 with an RBI in his first game off the disabled list.

"I need the guys and they said they needed me," Bradley told the A's official Web site. "I just want to provide some energy, provide a spark."

Bradley is hitting .291 in 16 games this season, and .352 (31-for-88) in his career against the Twins.

Mark Kotsay is also expected to be activated from the disabled list and start in center field for Oakland on Friday in his season debut. Kotsay, who hit .275 with seven homers and 59 RBIs in 2006, underwent back surgery in March.

"We're a better team now," A's manager Bob Geren said. "We're getting some great major league players back, and the whole atmosphere will be more upbeat as a result."

Oakland's Joe Kennedy (1-4, 3.62 ERA) takes the mound Friday looking to avoid a third straight loss. Kennedy was roughed up in his last start, allowing seven runs and eight hits in 4 2-3 innings of an 8-3 defeat at Baltimore on Saturday.

The left-hander is 2-4 with an 8.56 ERA in seven games - five starts - against Minnesota.

by: Michael Cash - thespread.com – Email Us

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