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Twins send out Turley for first big-league start vs. Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- Minnesota Twins left-hander Nik Turley will make his major league debut opposed by one of the organizations that wouldn't afford him that opportunity when he takes the mound against the San Francisco Giants in the finale of a three-game interleague series Sunday.

The Twins will be seeking their fourth road sweep of the season when they end their 10-game Western swing. They've already clinched a winning record on the trip with six wins in their first nine games.

Saturday's win was Minnesota's 20th of the season on the road. Only three other teams in the majors reached the mark before the American League Central leaders.

"I like the question," Twins second baseman Brian Dozier responded when asked to explain the Twins' road success. "The question is usually: Why can't you win at home?

"We've got to start winning at home. But if we keep winning on the road, I'll take it."

Turley has made 134 minor-league starts for five organizations since being the 50th-round pick -- the third-to-last overall selection -- by the New York Yankees in 2008.

The California native was the 1,502nd player picked.

The 27-year-old signed with the Giants in December 2014 and made 19 starts at Triple-A Sacramento the following season, going 7-8 with a 5.61 ERA.

"Their rotation was pretty stacked," Turley noted when asked if he were disappointed he didn't get a call-up by the Giants. "The opportunity just didn't happen."

But it will Sunday, only it will be against the Giants, who let the 6-foot-5 lefty walk after the 2015 season.

And it will happen in part because Turley struck out 15 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre batters while pitching for Rochester, the Twins' Triple-A affiliate, in his last start on Tuesday.

It improved his record to 1-2 with a 3.49 ERA in seven games at Rochester after he had gone 0-1 with a 0.37 ERA in five games at Double-A Chattanooga to start the season.

Turley will be facing a Giants team that has been limited to one run and 10 hits in the first two games of the series.

San Francisco has lost seven of its last nine home games.

"You look at the track record, the numbers ... I don't care what you say, the back of a baseball card ... and there's a dramatic difference right now for so many of these guys, where they normally are," Giants manager Bruce Bochy lamented, speaking mostly about Hunter Pence (.228 batting average) and Brandon Crawford (.247).

"Just look at last year at they're on-base (percentage and) slugging and where they're at now. There's a big difference. That's part of our issue and that's why we're where we're at.

"Until it gets closer to what it should be, we're going to continue to struggle. I have to be honest here. We can't lean on pitching that much. We have to pick it up here offensively."

Right-hander Matt Cain will be making his first career start against the Twins in the interleague game. He's 9-14 with a 3.35 ERA in 39 games, including 38 starts, in his career against American League competition.

The Giants have lost 12 of their last 16 games in interleague play.

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