It's becoming more and more difficult to sleep on the Twins, who have won 15 of their last 19 games. The Brewers, who will take on the defending American League Central champs beginning Friday, don't intend to do so.
"They've been one of the best organizations in the game for the last eight to 10 years. They're consistently a team that competes to get to the postseason," said Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun. "And, you know, whenever you have a track record of success like that, it's not going to instantly change overnight, so we expect them to be a good team and they're playing really well right now."
The Twins sputtered out to a dreadful start and fell to the AL Central cellar this year. But they've made their way out of last place and have proven to be a force to be reckoned with.
Minnesota is 15-5 in June and is 144-111 all-time in Interleague Play. On Friday, the Twins look to steady right-hander Scott Baker to keep the ball rolling. Baker has thrown two consecutive excellent starts, tossing eight scoreless innings against the Padres his last time out.
"The fastball has a little bit of life at the end," San Diego manager Bud Black said of Baker, who struck out 10 for his third straight victory. "He was pitching at the top of the [strike] zone. It takes a lot of discipline for a hitter to lay off that."
It's the continuation of a brutal Interleague stretch for Milwaukee, which has already faced Boston and Tampa Bay and will head to New York next week.
"I think the schedule is set up where, if we're pitching well and it's keeping us in ballgames, I'm OK with how it's set up," said Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke. "Interleague Play, with me, shouldn't be spread out too far. I think it's really nice that, in the middle of your season, you get this window here where you have this Interleague, and then you're done with it. If you spread it out, to me it's more destructive."
Twins: Nathan and Thome to be activated for Friday's game
Right-hander Joe Nathan has been activated in advance of Friday's game, and designated hitter Jim Thome is expected to also be activated. Nathan was placed on the disabled list retroactive to May 24 with a right flexor muscle strain, and Thome has been out with a strained left quad and sore back.
"Everything went good with Nathan and he will be joining us Friday," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "And Thome is on his way to join us on Friday."
Delmon Young is hitting .321 (25-for-78) with 11 runs, five doubles, a home run and nine RBIs in 20 June games.
He has hit safely in 10 of his past 12 games, going 17-for-46 (.370) in that span.
Young is also the only Twins hitter with history against Brewers starter Randy Wolf, going 1-for-3 against the lefty.
Brewers: Wolf solid of late
Wolf has enjoyed some success over his past seven starts, amassing a 5-2 mark to offset an 0-2 start to the season.
The southpaw threw 111 pitches over seven innings against the Red Sox in his last start, limiting them to two runs on nine hits.
"He really had to battle," Roenicke said. "He made some big pitches when he needed to make them. [The Red Sox] are really hard to beat in this ballpark, and it took a great game to do it. [Wolf] started it with an outstanding ballgame."
The Brewers and Twins will meet again from July 1-3 in Minneapolis. Last season, the Brewers won four of six in the Interleague set, narrowly outscoring the Twins, 34-31, in six games.
The last Twins pitcher to hit a home run was Jim Kaat on June 11, 1972, at Cleveland. Four AL teams have not had a home run by a pitcher since Interleague Play began in 1997 -- the Angels, Twins, Yankees and A's.