After a much needed rainout that gave the Red Sox some time to regroup following their e..."/> After a much needed rainout that gave the Red Sox some time to regroup following their e..."/>

Series Snapshot: Red Sox @ Twins

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After a much needed rainout that gave the Red Sox some time to regroup following their epic collapse in Saturday’s game against the Yankees, the Olde Towne Team left Boston just before the rain and snow hit Massachusetts.  Their destination?  Minnesota.  That sounds like a nice getaway doesn’t it?  Actually, if you’re the Red Sox, the Twins may be just what this club needs.

The Twins are second last in the AL Central at 5-11 and much like the Sox, have been victim to shaky pitching.  If the Red Sox offense can continue to produce, this should be a series win for Boston, given they have their top three arms going in this series in Lester, Beckett and Buchholz.  But as we’ve learnt in this early season, that doesn’t necessarily translate into a win.

We reached out to Puckett’s Pond senior editor Nate, who was gracious enough to answer a few questions about the Twins, including the start that Mauer and Morneau are off to, their starting pitching and whether this club can compete for a postseason birth. Enjoy.

1. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau are off to nice starts this year. With these two fine hitters appearing to have refound their form what is the level of optimism with Twins fans that this club will be competitive this yr despite their losing record so far?

I will be very optimistic if the Twins finish the first six weeks of the season with a record near .500. They have already had to fact the Angels, Rangers, Yankees and Rays, and they have more games against those teams as well as the Red Sox and Tigers coming up. Morneau and Mauer will need to stay hot in order for the Twins to get past the tough competition. As far as those two go, I think most of us are cautiously optimistic. I like what they’re doing so far, but there’s always that injury threat hanging over their heads like the Sword of Damocles. I’ll be at least a little nervous about their health all season long.

2. It appears the Twins pitching has been struggling out of the gate, something Red Sox fans can relate to. If the club could improve this area is it reasonable to say the Twins could compete for a wild card?

I do not think the Twins will compete for a wild card. With the Angels and Rangers in the West and the Sox, Yankees, and Rays in the East, there are already too many good teams that will not win their division. But if the Tigers spmehow falter, the Twins could in theory compete for the Central Division. You are right that they’ll need to get some better pitching, especially starting pitching. Scott Baker, arguably the best starter, is gone for the year. Francisco Liriano, who teased us with a strong Spring Training, has been absolutely worthless. For now, the Twins will have to hold the rotation together with duct tape and Carl Pavano, and maybe they can try to swing a deal for a real starter as the trade deadline approaches.

3. Which players aside from the usual suspects should Red Sox fans watch for during this series that could be game breakers?

Josh Willingham has been a pleasant surprise. He was the AL Player of the Week the first full week of the season, and he has been the most positive addition to the team so far this season. I don’t know if you’d count Denard Span as one of the usual suspects, but if not, you might want to watch him as well. He’s a fun player to watch, great at getting on base, able to run well, and great in the field.

Starting Pitching Matchups:

Monday: LHP Jon Lester (0-2, 5.82) vs. RHP Jason Marquis (1-0, 7.20), 8:10 p.m.

Tuesday: RHP Josh Beckett (1-2, 5.03) vs. RHP Nick Blackburn (0-1, 5.56), 8:10 p.m.

Wednesday: RHP Clay Buchholz (1-1, 9.00) vs. RHP Liam Hendriks (0-0, 3.86), 8:10 p.m.

Is a Red Sox sweep too much to ask for?

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