The Minnesota Twins will try to bounce back from back-to-back, walk-off losses when they host the Baltimore Orioles to open a three-game series Friday night in Minneapolis.
The Twins are coming off a 5-3 loss against the Cleveland Guardians on Thursday, which followed a 7-6 defeat one day earlier. Both losses came on game-ending home runs.
Minnesota dropped three games of five-game set against Cleveland and has lost seven of its past 12.
"This is probably the most difficult, most, I would say, gut-wrenching series I think I've ever been a part of," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "I've never really seen five games against one team in four days that felt like that."
Now, the Twins return home for a quick three-game series before they head back on the road.
Baltimore has won 11 of its past 18 games but is coming off back-to-back losses against the Seattle Mariners. The Orioles had a day off Thursday after losing two of three at Seattle.
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said his team's successful June proved its resilience.
"There's a ton of confidence in our clubhouse, a ton of confidence in our dugout," Hyde said. "And that's made it a lot of fun."
Part of the reason for that confidence has been the Orioles' pitching staff.
"We have a sense of calm," Hyde said. "It gives you a sense of confidence in the dugout we're always going to be in the game, we're always going to be able, if we're down a couple, be able to come back."
Orioles right-hander Spenser Watkins (1-1, 5.14 ERA) is set to make his 10th start of the season. The 29-year-old is looking to notch back-to-back victories after beating the Chicago White Sox in his most recent outing. He gave up one unearned run on five hits in five innings.
Watkins has made one career start against the Twins, which came on May 5 in a 5-3 Baltimore win. He had a no-decision in that outing while allowing three runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Minnesota will counter with right-hander Joe Ryan (6-3, 3.20), who is set to make his 12th start. He also is aiming for back-to-back victories after earning the win against the Colorado Rockies in his most recent outing last Sunday.
Ryan held the Rockies to three runs on eight hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out one.
This will be Ryan's second career start against Baltimore. He also had a no-decision in his first meeting, in which he gave up two runs on six hits in 4 2/3 innings in a Minnesota win on May 3.
Despite their recent stumble against the Guardians, Twins players are staying positive in hopes of preventing a bad spell from turning into a prolonged slump.
"First, we're in first place," Twins shortstop Carlos Correa said. "Second, it's a long year, and we know that. I've been on winning teams, and stretches like this always happen. ...
"It's nothing new. But my job as a guy who's been there before is to let the guys know that it's just normal. It happens when you play 162. It's one of the toughest sports out there."
--Field Level Media