It’s a bit overcast at Target Field today, where Andrew Albers (0-0, 6.97 ERA) faces off against Anthony Ranaudo (1-1, 8.76 ERA) and the Chicago White Sox. The Minnesota Twins are in position to win their first series since sweeping the Atlanta Braves in a two-game series on Aug. 16 and 17.
“It’s one of those things where you get a little bit better feeling after you’ve won a couple games,” said Twins manager Paul Molitor.
“To come out and win a series today when we haven’t won one in I don’t really know how long, but it seems like it’s been forever, so it’s an opportunity for us to have a good series and hopefully talk about the momentum factor of heading into a tough Kansas City team on Monday.”
John Ryan Murphy will be behind the plate and Miguel Sano remains at third:
Albers has struggled since being called up and must work around his lack of velocity if he wants to remain in the majors next season.
“He found out that even last start when you think you make pitches and they get hit out of the park, it tells you that your margin of error here compared to possibly Triple-A, or wherever else you pitch, is different,” said Molitor.
“He knows what he needs to do and go about his business. It’s all about location for him, when you’re not a high velocity pitcher and you have to rely on command and deception, you gotta get the ball where you want to.”
Minnesota has already hit seven home runs this series, including a pair from Byron Buxton and Sano yesterday. Molitor says power tends to come and go and that he’s still emphasizing the fundamentals with his team.
“I think just about every area in this game can have a tendency to go in bunches according to what other people are doing,” he said. “It’s hard to explain that, and why it happens, but I do think it does. It can be starting pitching or power; different elements of the game it seems to get on a roll.
“To be honest with you, the home run has been a bigger part of what we’ve done offensively than I had really expected it to be.”
“It’s been a nice addition to what we do, I think still you try to coach and manage your team to be a team that has flow,” he added. “We talked about that a lot this year: running the bases and putting balls in play and moving runners and execute situationally.”
Berrios gets the start tomorrow
Berrios has not been added to the roster, due to a rule that states that he can’t be added until 10 days after being sent down, but he will make the start tomorrow.
As to whether he will make a regular start all month long, that is still to be determined.
“We talked yesterday quite extensively about the rotation from here on out from how hard you wanna push Ervin Santana, as an example, to try to be as competitive as you can against teams that are playing for something,” said Molitor.
“We had discussions about everything about how to take advantage of the off-days we have, I think we have three remaining. We talked a little bit about a 6-man rotation, and we’re toying with some things.
“But I think Berrios will have … I don’t know how many starts, but we have him slotted in here at least for the next couple weeks. So we’ll just have to see how it goes.”
Dozier leading off
Dozier will continue to lead off for the time being.
“As August unfolded and winning became more challenging, especially later in the month, I thought about, more than once, getting a guy who’s hot more in position to drive in more runs, possibly, with the roll he was on,” said Molitor.
“But, a couple of things: 1) he does seem to thrive leading off, and 2) I don’t think I have a lot of options I’d consider to replace him right now. Down the road, maybe, but it seems to be working.”
It has also helped that Dozier now comes up with men on base. Early in the year, players like Kurt Suzuki and Byron Buxton were struggling, so there was nobody on base when the lineup turned over.
“It’s a good thing to know that if you’re gonna get at least one guy that’s gonna get at least five at-bats, it’s gonna be him. And I think that you hope that your bottom half can do its part to roll over and give him some opportunities,” said Molitor.
“For a while there, our bottom half weren’t been providing a lot of opportunities for the top half. Byron was struggling and Kurt early in the year and different combinations that we were trying down there.”
Polanco holding it down at short
There has been some concern over whether Polanco, who is hitting .307/.350/.447 in 165 plate appearnaces this year, can hold his own defensively — especially at short. So far that has not been a problem.
“I think he’s handled it fairly well. You’re not gonna give him an A-grade, but it’s been enough to where I haven’t changed my opinion about running him out there almost every day. And I think the more he plays, it seems like the better he’s played,” said Molitor.
“Whether it’s showing a little bit better range, finishing plays — which was maybe one of my biggest concerns, the hiccups have been minimal, and it’s good to see.
“We’re gonna go forward, and we don’t know what we’re gonna do this winter. But he’s definitely showing me, little by little, that that has to be something that has to be seriously considered about the chance of him being a shortstop.”