Twins Mauer Morneau Lead The Surging Team

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Very few teams win 21 of 23 games and still find themselves on the ground floor but that is the case with the Minnesota Twins and the AL Central division. They have won 11 straight but the Tigers and White Sox refuse to let them into the party as we head to the All Star break.

Joe Mauer will part company with his teammate Justin Morneau who was neglected by AL manager Ozzie Guillen when he filled out his all star roster this past weekend. Mauer leads the majors with a ridiculous .391 average and has fought off stomach complications to remain in the lineup. His buddy Morneau has been on fire of late hitting safely in 11 straight games and in 22 of the past 23 games, going 39-for-91 (.429) with 11 homers and 33 RBIs in that span. As mentioned the Twins have won 21 of those 23 games.

The Mets are lucky they are playing in the inept NL East division as they have been less then stellar yesterday. They have been outscored 55-24 in the past 7 games, including Monday’s 11-1 shellacking at he hands of the inept Pirates. Pedro Martinez was originally scheduled to start the series opener against the Pirates but was pushed back because of a sore hip. The Mets aren’t sure if Martinez will start again before the break but manager Willie Randolph said he isn’t concerned about his star right-hander.

The San Francisco Giants have a chance to move into first place in the NL West prior to the break and considering their hitting has been non-existent, manager Felipe Alou must be happy. The Giants, who are 3-2 on their season-high 11-game road trip, will send ace Jason Schmidt (6-3, 2.73 ERA) to the mound in hopes of recording the team’s first four-game winning streak of the season.

San Francisco won five in a row last Sept. 16-21.

Schmidt is 0-1 in his last four starts despite a 3.42 ERA and .235 opponent batting average in that span, as the Giants have provided him with just seven total runs of support in those outings.

Two pitchers who are pulling down a lot of jack oppose each other today at Wrigley Field and both have been awful this year. Andy Pettitte and Mark Prior will try and get untracked for their stumbling teams. Pettitte, a two-time All-Star, allowed five runs — two earned — and 10 hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-0 loss to Detroit on Thursday. With Thursday’s defeat, he matched the nine losses he recorded in 33 starts a year ago. Pettitte has not lost 10 in a season since going 15-10 in 2001 with the New York Yankees.

The left-hander is 0-2 with a 6.23 ERA in his last three starts since a June 13 victory over Chicago. Pettitte allowed one run and five hits in seven innings in that 9-2 victory, and is 1-2 with a 3.82 ERA in seven career starts against the Cubs.

Chicago counters with Mark Prior (0-3, 9.00), who looks for his first win of the season and tries to avoid losing four straight starts for the first time in his career. Prior gave up five runs, eight hits and four walks in 5 2-3 innings of a 5-4 loss to Milwaukee on Thursday.

The 25-year-old right-hander has not made it out of the sixth inning in any of his three starts this season. Prior is 4-4 with a 4.35 ERA in 12 career starts against the Astros.

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