Greetings from Target Field, where it appears that there’s an impending rain storm that could delay or cancel the game. There’s a 40 percent chance of a thunderstorm at 6:00 pm and it increases from there — 60 percent at 7:00 pm, 70 percent at 8:00 pm, 90 percent at 9:00 pm and 100 percent at 10:00 pm.
“It’s better than it was early,” said manager Paul Molitor. “It’s out there, it’s kind of hanging out there to the west. I haven’t seen (Twins senior vice president of operations) Matt Hoy yet, who’s usually my biggest resource in terms of what might or might happen. Obviously we want to play. We don’t want to get backed up again.”
Prepare for a delay, in short, because they’re gonna try to squeeze this one in here.
Assuming the game gets played, it’s Kyle Gibson (R, 6-9, 6.02 ERA) vs. Carlos Carrasco (R, 11-5, 3.83). Molitor seemed tired of questions about Gibson’s aggressiveness today.
“Well, how many times have we talked about Kyle and the need to be aggressive, and try to trust that his stuff in the zone is still gonna play?” he said of the former first-rounder.
“We’ve seen him definitely improve down those lines. This lineup for anybody, the way they’re playing right now, is gonna be challenging. But you don’t want to add to their cause, at least minimize times you’re gonna give them counts where they can just swing from their heels or free baserunners with base on balls.”
Miguel Sano is the cleanup hitter tonight, while Byron Buxton moves up in the order with his current hot streak:
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) August 16, 2017
Cleveland rolls out a familiar lineup and is looking for their sixth-straight win tonight:
We are looking for our sixth straight win tonight. Here's how our guys will line up! pic.twitter.com/C2lknkzIfr
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) August 16, 2017
Cleveland is 8-0 against the Twins in Target Field and the running game has been a key to their success. In 15 games against the Twins (5-9 overall), they are eight of 10 in stolen base attempts.
“I know we’re aware of their guys who can run, and we’re also aware of our guys who don’t do very well at it. And if they don’t do it very well, they’re going to take advantage. They did last night,” said Molitor.
“They have guys, the Kipnises, the Chisenhalls and Bruces, they see things. You give them a crack, and they’re going to try to put their foot in there and take 90 feet.”
The Indians lead the Twins and Royals by six games in the Central, but Molitor is avoiding the temptation to call this a big series.
“We’re 0-8 and trying to hold our own here in a couple different races, giving ourselves a chance,” said Molitor. The Twins are currently one game back of the second Wild Card spot, but there are eight teams currently in the running for two Wild Card berths.
He also said these games don’t necessarily give him an idea of who would deliver in important games down the stretch.
“You can’t always measure it by a game or three or five,” he said. “There’s been really really great players, Hall of Fame players, who’ve had really good postseasons and really poor postseasons. Sometimes it’s kind of where they’re at, at that time. It doesn’t mean that they buckled under the light.”
Buxton, Sano deliver on defense
Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano both made ESPN’s Top 10 plays last night with their defense. Buxton made a signature catch against the wall, and Sano threw across his body to get Austin Jackson out at first.
“The Buxton catch, understanding to get to the wall to give yourself a chance to make an adjustment. He’s made a lot more athletic plays, I believe, but still that he’s been able to haul that one in, keep it in the park,” said Molitor.
“And Sano’s, like we said last night, not having watched it again, I just know from my naked eye, that the reaction time, and most impressively, the catch in transition and throwing strength was all on display in one play.”
“Everyday I work every side and that play I work a lot too,” said Sano. “Everyday I do it with [Eduardo] Escobar. Like when I started a triple play, that day I worked on that. I told you all, I’m working really hard everyday. I want to do something different and that can help the team win.”
Molitor compared the throw to something Derek Jeter or Manny Machado would do.
“To be running away from the direction you’re throwing and have that type of strength, whether you see a shortstop do the sorta Jeter-esque thing, or the Machado thing at third,” he said.
“We’ve seen Miguel make some impressive cross-the-body throws when he’s stepped on third and thrown to first on a couple double-plays. That’s another one that’s hard to get a lot on the ball.
“But just in sheer ability to throw a baseball, he’s got a 7-8 arm, which is the top of the charts in terms of our game is concerned.”
An MRI revealed that Hector Santiago has inflammation in his back.
“There was inflammation in the cervical area — C6, C7,” said Molitor. “We are gonna go ahead and inject that, to try to get that thing to calm down a bit. We’re hoping that’s the source of some of the discomfort he’s feeling in relating to trying to throw a baseball.”
He has no set date for a return, nor does Glen Perkins, who threw in Double-A this week as part of a rehab assignment.
“No,” Molior said when asked if there was clarity on Perkins’ return. “Open-minded. Open-minded, even in the short term.”
He could pitch a simulated game in the near future if he is not on the roster in the next day or two.
I’m covering tonight, assuming the weather holds, and then Brandon is back tomorrow. Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@tschreier3 and @Brandon_Warne).