When the Twins visit Rogers Centre on Monday for the first of three games against the Blue Jays this week, it'll be a battle of two No. 1 pitchers who haven't exactly pitched like it so far.
Toronto right-hander R.A. Dickey (4.25 ERA, 1.42 WHIP) will oppose Minnesota righty Ricky Nolasco (5.65 ERA, 1.53 WHIP), as both look to rebound from so-so starts to June.
For Dickey, who fought through five innings of two-run ball against the Tigers his last time out, the hope is his body won't be as "cranky."
"It felt like a tightrope the whole game," Dickey said. "You have three or four games a year where your body is just cranky. Who knows what it's from? It could be that I'm getting close to 40 years old -- that could be something, too.
"It's not an issue. I've had cranky days before and pitched well. It's just something I need to monitor and be ready to go [vs. Minnesota]."
The Blue Jays hope this series goes smoother than their three-game set with the Twins in early April, when Minnesota's doubleheader sweep gave them two of three. Dickey pitched one of those games, but he gave up five runs on seven hits and five walks in 4 1/3 innings -- his shortest start of the season.
That was indicative of a career-long trend for Dickey, who has never pitched particularly well (6.58 ERA) against the team with which he spent the 2009 season.
Conversely, Nolasco is coming off one of his longest outings of the season on Wednesday against the Brewers. He went seven innings, giving up four runs on six hits with seven strikeouts to get the win. His final line would've looked far better if not for a three-run homer he gave up to Aramis Ramirez in his final frame.
"Sometimes you're just going to get beat. This is the big leagues," Nolasco said. "Aramis has been doing this for a long time. I'm not going to let one pitch ruin my night. I'd like to take it back, but he's a proven power threat in this game."
Minnesota would benefit from a lengthy outing by Nolasco, after dropping two of three to the cellar-dwelling Astros. Their starters lasted an average of 5 1/3 innings, including a three-inning stint by Samuel Deduno on Sunday.
Nolasco has gone at least six innings in eight of his 12 starts.
Twins: With Morales signing, a vote of confidence
Designated hitter Kendrys Morales, who signed with Minnesota over the weekend, isn't expected to make his debut quite yet. But for the Twins, his mere presence is more telling than the date he gets into the lineup.
At 29-32, Minnesota is in the thick of things in a jam-packed American League Central. The club has won just one out of their last five series, but they're managing to stay afloat with an 11-10 record against division opponents. The addition of Morales is expected to only help those efforts.
"We're certainly in the mix. We've played pretty decent up to this point and have surprised some people," general manager Terry Ryan said. "We're at the point in the season where there's a lot of baseball left. So why not the Twins? ... So I thought why don't we bring in a quality player who doesn't cost us a Draft pick, which we treasure here."
Added second baseman Brian Dozier: "It's good for all of us to know. We want to win now. We've been beat up for three years. We don't want to rebuild. We want to win. And I think we brought in a guy who can help us do that. So it's pretty cool for us to see that."
Blue Jays: Reyes swinging a hot bat
If Jose Reyes is happy to see Nolasco on the mound on Monday, it probably won't be to reminisce about spending the 2012 season together in Miami. The Toronto shortstop is a career .327/.365/.571 hitter against his old teammate and National League East rival, a history that includes five extra-base hits (three homers) and three walks in 52 plate appearances.
Personal history aside, it wouldn't be terribly surprising if Reyes did some damage against the Twins. His .259 average this spring would be a career low for a full season, but he's certainly picked it up over the last month. After hitting .179 as of May 8, Reyes is raking at a .313 clip with a .373 OBP in his last 28 contests. The team is 20-8 over that same span.
A single against St. Louis on Sunday extended Reyes' hit streak to nine games. He's reached base in 33 of his last 35 contests.
• With a 5-0 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday, the Blue Jays dropped a series for the first time in their last seven tries, a run that stretched back to mid-May. The last time the club won seven consecutive series was in 2000.
• Adam Lind has multiple hits in 10 of his past 19 starts, dating back to May 11. In that span, he is hitting .391 (27-for-69) with 11 extra-base hits, eight walks and nine RBIs.
Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.