Left-hander Gio Gonzalez takes the mound for Milwaukee and will try to cool down the hottest team in baseball on Monday night when the Brewers open a two-game series against the Minnesota Twins in Minneapolis.
Gonzalez (2-1, 2.39 ERA), who has allowed just one home run in five starts this season, is 3-3 with a 6.43 ERA in eight career starts against the Twins but is 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA in two starts at Target Field. He'll be opposed by right-hander Michael Pineda (4-3, 5.43), who will be making his first career start against the Brewers.
Minnesota enters the contest with the best record in baseball (36-16) and leading the major leagues in virtually every key offensive category. The Twins lead MLB in average (.273), home runs (104), slugging percentage (.520), OPS (.863), runs scored (315) and run differential (plus-111).
"Offensively, they've been good," Brewers manager Craig Counsell told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "If you've got that record, you're doing a lot of things well."
The Twins come in on a roll, having won 11 of their last 12 games, including a season-best six in a row. They are 19-6 in the month of May, when they have also hit 54 homers, one off the team record for the month set in 1964.
Four Minnesota players are in double-digits in home runs, led by Eddie Rosario (16), who hit a three-run blast in Sunday's 7-0 win over the Chicago White Sox. C.J. Cron (13), Max Kepler (12) and Jonathan Schoop (10) also are in double figures with American League batting leader Jorge Polanco (.335) and catcher Mitch Garver, who is currently on the injured list with an ankle injury, sitting at nine.
Even more remarkable about Minnesota's power surge is that the man most felt would be their leader, designated hitter Nelson Cruz, has seven and hasn't played since May 12 because of a sore wrist.
Rosario and Kepler both had three-run homers in Sunday's victory.
"All of our guys have been picking each other up pretty well," Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. "You can look up and down the lineup and we don't know who it's going to be on any given day. Rosie, Kep again today with the big swings picking us up. Hopefully we look up tomorrow and it's them and maybe some other guys too.
"It's a group," Baldelli added. "It's a really good group that comes in together and figures a way to get it done every night."
Baldelli credited hitting coach James Rowson and assistant Rudy Hernandez with doing a good job preparing his hitters mentally entering each game.
"I think our hitting coaches have our players in a very good place mentally, a very confident place," Baldelli said. "I do believe a lot of the soft factors when it comes to hitting matters a lot. And confidence and the group believing in themselves, having a good general idea and plan going into the game matters a lot. You add to the equation a few new faces with good ability and combine them with the real quality hitters that this organization has had here and developed and you have a good recipe."
Milwaukee comes in off a 9-1 win over Philadelphia on Sunday that saw Brandon Woodruff flirt with a perfect game, allowing only a leadoff homer to catcher Andrew Knapp in the sixth over eight innings. That proved to be the only baserunner all day for the Phillies as Matt Albers pitched a perfect ninth.
Reigning National League MVP Christian Yelich hit his MLB-leading 21st home run in the contest, one of five homers for the Brewers.