SAN FRANCISCO -- Having split a four-game series against the surprise leader of the National League Central, the San Francisco Giants will turn their attention to the surprise leader of the American League Central when they open a three-game interleague series Friday night against the Minnesota Twins.
The pitching matchup is a doozy: Twins seven-game winner Ervin Santana against the Giants' best pitcher at home, Matt Moore.
The Giants and Twins haven't met since 2014, when San Francisco was the division leader, and played like it. The Giants swept the three-game home series by a total of 16-4 to run their winning streak over the Twins to five dating back to 2011.
However, those 2014 games were pitched by Tim Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong and Madison Bumgarner, none of whom will be around for the rematch.
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Instead, the Twins will employ the big-name pitcher in the opener. Santana (7-3) ranks third in the AL in ERA (2.44) and is tied for third in wins.
The right-hander hasn't been nearly as sharp in his past six starts as he was in his first six. After opening the season 5-0 with a 0.66 ERA, Santana has interspersed three bad outings (18 earned runs allowed) among three good ones (one earned run allowed) in his past six starts.
His most recent outing was among the bad ones. He was lit up for seven runs and seven hits in just four innings during a 7-2 loss against the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday in Anaheim.
If there were ever a good time to have a clunker, Saturday was it. Afterward, everyone was talking Albert Pujols' 600th home run, which came off Santana, rather than the pitcher's problems.
"I'm not the only one, you know," Santana said of serving up a home run to his former Angels teammate. "I'm happy for him, I'm glad he got it done."
Santana is 14-13 in 39 career interleague starts, but he has never faced the Giants.
He lost 5-1 to Colorado in interleague play when the Twins hosted the Rockies in May.
Moore, meanwhile, has faced the Twins four times in his career, all while a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. He went 1-0 with a 4.15 ERA in those contests.
The left-hander is 3-3 in 11 career interleague starts.
Moore allowed just four runs in his last three home starts, limiting the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals to 16 hits in 21 1/3 innings.
The Giants are opening a five-game homestand of all interleague games. They will host the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday and Wednesday.
San Francisco, which has lost seven of its past 10 games, used a four-run 10th inning to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 9-5 on Thursday and salvage a 3-4 trip. The extra-inning rally came after they blew a late lead.
"We've had some tough times, and you know, we give up a two-run lead there in the ninth and (yet) find a way to win the ballgame," Giants manager Bruce Bochy noted with a sigh of relief after the game. "You keep doing that and we'll get this turned around."
The Twins also are coming off a tight win, 2-1 in their series finale at Seattle on Thursday night behind the impressive pitching of Kyle Gibson. Minnesota had lost the first two games of the series at Safeco Field.