After looking lost through his first four starts of the season, with a miserable 7.71 ERA and 1.96 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) attached to his name, Ryan Vogelsong has finally begun to look like the pitcher that made the All-Star Game in 2011.
In his five outings since April 21, the Giants right-hander has allowed just 24 hits in 33 1/3 innings to go along with a sparkling 1.62 ERA. The surging Vogelsong showed no signs of slowing down in his last start, either -- seven scoreless innings vs. the Marlins on Sunday.
"He had a good fastball, had good command of it," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after the game. "He worked ahead in the count. He used his other pitches off of the fastball. Had a good changeup, breaking ball to go along with it. He was in command the whole way. Just a great job. He's been throwing the ball well. His last start he should have fared better. He carried that stuff into today's game. The key for him was he threw early strikes and quality strikes."
Vogelsong will hope to carry that approach and the recent momentum into his Saturday night start, but he'll have to contend with a team on the rise in its own right in the Twins, who have won eight of their last 12.
Minnesota will rely on right-hander Samuel Deduno (1-2, 3.53), who began the season in the bullpen but has made three starts since May 6. He has allowed eight earned runs across 17 innings in those games.
Deduno picked up his first win of the season in his last outing, holding the Mariners to two runs on two hits over six strong innings.
"My fastball was pretty good," Deduno said. "I was able to get ahead in the count and then use my breaking ball. The weather warmed up a little bit, so my curveball was pretty good."
The Giants and Twins have met a mere 10 times in their history, with the last meeting before the current series coming in 2011. San Francisco took that series, 2-1, and is 6-4 all-time against Minnesota.
"You have to spend a lot more time preparing for them," Bochy said. "They do good things athletically. They have talented players, a good closer, good hitters. I'm sure they surprised a lot of people over there [in the American League]."
Giants: Crawford tapping into potential
Brandon Crawford is starting to look like the player the Giants always thought he could become. The shortstop has blossomed into a well-rounded player with quality defensive skills -- he has just three errors in 44 starts this year after committing a total of 33 errors in the previous two seasons -- that rivals some of the best at the position.
He's made strides at the plate, too. After hitting .199 against left-handed pitchers last year, he's now hitting .365 against them in 2014. He has been struggling against right-handers (.196) this year, but Bochy has seen improvement there, as well.
"With the bat he's made a lot of progress," Bochy said. "He's having better at-bats against right-handers. He's a solid player. Defensively he's very athletic and acrobatic. He's made some game-changing plays out there."
Twins: Reaching new heights
The Twins arrived in San Francisco with a 23-21 record, and it represented something of a high-water mark for this team. In fact, it was the first time the club was at least two games over .500 this late in the season since the 2010 squad finished 94-68.
Reliever Casey Fien sounded taken aback when he heard it had been more than three full seasons since the Twins' record was at least two games over .500, but chalked it up to a change in team attitude.
"When we come into the clubhouse, we expect to win and I think the confidence is there," Fien said. "For the winning teams I've been on, when we lose, it's surprising. That's what it should be. The last two years since I've been here, I think we accepted losing. I think right now we've changed that."
• Opposing teams have found success on the basepaths against the Twins. In 24 stolen-base attempts, they have allowed the runner to reach safely 22 times for a league-worst .917 stolen-base percentage.
• The Giants have been able to pride themselves on their pitching staff in recent years, and this season is no different. Entering Friday, their team ERA (3.16) ranked in the top five in the Majors, which is where they have also finished in three of the last five seasons.
Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.