Santana looks to pitch the Twins to a two-game sweep of the Padres on Wednesday evening. (photo credit: Cumulus Media, Brian Curski)

It’s sunny, hazy and extremely warm as the Minnesota Twins prepare to try take a two-game sweep against the visiting San Diego Padres at Target Field. It’ll be a pair of electric righties doing battle, as the Twins send Ervin Santana (3.45 ERA, 4.62 FIP in 187.2 innings) to the bump while the Padres will counter with Dinelson Lamet (4.32 ERA, 4.06 FIP in 98 innings).

Manager Paul Molitor is not expecting any kind of bleed from Tuesday night’s 16-0 win into Wednesday’s game, but he also doesn’t expect that facing a distinctly different pitcher will matter too much, either.

“You never assume it’ll carry over,” Molitor said. “We — somewhat ironically — just had a game similar to that one on the last homestand, and we came back the next day and were a bit challenged offensively. The Royals ended up winning the game after that 17-0 game.”

Molitor said the team had a nice celebration after the game for Niko Goodrum’s first MLB hit and Gabriel Moya’s first MLB appearance, but it’s time to turn the page heading into Wednesday’s game.

“Today’s a new day,” Molitor said. “There’s a good pitcher on the mound for the Padres, and Ervin is hopefully going to give us a chance like he almost always does, and we can find a way to complete the two-game sweep.”

The Twins have also set up their rotation for the upcoming series against the Blue Jays, and it’ll be as follows:

  • Thursday – Jose Berrios
  • Friday – Bartolo Colon (on Big Sexy night, no less)
  • Saturday – Adalberto Mejia
  • Sunday – Kyle Gibson

“I wanted to keep Jose and Colon on their regular turns,” Molitor said. “That was something I thought made sense, given the fact that they’ve both thrown the ball well. With Mejia, he’s done some good things for us this year. His rehab has been efficient. He’s proven that he’s ready to come back and hopefully help us. And (Saturday) is really the first day that I need to slot someone in without (Aaron) Slegers being in the rotation.”

Miguel Sano again took early batting practice for the Twins, but didn’t do much running around, Molitor said. “I think he was a little sore from the work yesterday,” Molitor said, so the team opted to give him a day off from that. Sano is making progress, Molitor noted, but there’s still no timeline and his return is not what the manager would term as “imminent.”

To that end, it feels like he’s at least a week away. “We’re just hoping each day that we get a little bit closer,” Molitor said.

Here’s how the Twins will line up against Lamet:

Here’s how the Padres will counter against Santana:

Santana has been up-and-down a bit this season, but since Aug. 1 that has been more up than down. In that time frame — 51.1 innings, eight starts — he’s posted a 3.68 ERA with 47 strikeouts and 12 walks while holding opposing batters to a .240/.293/.388 line.

He’s also gotten swinging strikes on 13 percent of his pitches, considerably better than the MLB average rate of about 10 percent.

Santana’s last two starts have been a bit more uneven, as the righty has allowed four earned runs in each — eight earned over 11.2 innings — after allowing three or fewer earned runs in each of his six starts in August.

We don’t know a ton about Lamet — he’s tall, throws hard and has a really nice slider, Molitor said — so we again went to the well with Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune, who gave us the lowdown on the talented young righty:

Notes and Quotes

  • The Twins are expecting 20,000 fans on Wednesday evening.
  • A win on Wednesday will give the Twins 10 series sweeps on the season — their most since sweeping that many in 2006.
  • A win on Wednesday will also bring the Twins to .500 at Target Field on the year (37-37) with eight games left at home.
  • The Twins are 22-21 against left-handed starters this season and 53-48 against righties.
  • Per the game notes, reliever Trevor Hildenberger is on a 9.0-inning scoreless streak.
  • Molitor on Robbie Grossman’s approach at the plate: “He did some good things last year, too. It’s just one of those years where he’s been mostly relegated to DH duties. We have some pretty good outfielders out there. I don’t think he loves that role — he’d like to be a defender — but I think he has a professional approach to hitting. He’s one of those guys that doesn’t carry over from one at-bat to the next. He’s got a really good knowledge of the strike zone. He can slow the game down. The amount of pitches he sees as well as the fact that he never seems to get too sped up and chase pitches is a good combination. It’s a bit of a luxury to be able to hit him down at the bottom. He does a nice job of giving guys like Joe and Brian a chance when we turn the lineup over.”
  • Molitor on a fully-stocked bullpen, and the challenges it presents: “I wouldn’t say it’s harder (to manage), but it can be a little more complicated. Part of your strategy throughout the year is trying to put together a plan — winning, losing, close, late and who is fresh and all those types of things — and now you just have more names in the mix. You kind of build trust in certain people that you’d like to have in there when you have a chance to win, and hopefully they’re available for the majority of these games going forward until we finish.”

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Brandon Warne covers the Twins for Cold Omaha, and has had his work featured in numerous places across the United States. Locally, Warne’s work has appeared at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, St. Paul Pioneer Press, 1500 ESPN and Go96.3 for writing and audio, and he’s also had written work appear on Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs and cited in the Los Angeles Times. Warne lives in the outer Twin Cities suburbs with his wife, Amanda. Listen to his Cold Omaha podcast Midwest Swing. Follow Brandon on Twitter @Brandon_Warne.

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