It’s overcast and warmer than Thursday as the Minnesota Twins prepare for game two of a four-game weekend set against the Texas Rangers. It’ll be left-hander Martin Perez (5.13 ERA, 4.48 FIP in 112.1 innings) toeing the rubber for the Rangers against righty Bartolo Colon (7.70 ERA, 5.09 FIP in 78.1 innings) for the Twins.
More on that in a bit.
Manager Paul Molitor said there were no reported issues with the grass in the outfield after multiple concerts were held at Target Field while the team was on its California road swing. “I heard no issues,” Molitor said. “I didn’t really see it have an effect on anything that transpired last night. I went out there and looked at it. It’s pretty typical. They do a really good job of getting it back into as level as possible in a short time when you have your field trampled and staged upon.”
Kyle Gibson was in the clubhouse prior to batting practice, and was returning from a strong short stint with the Red Wings which included pitching in his own back yard in a game against Indianapolis (Pirates Triple-A). Gibson estimated he had around 70 family members in attendance.
“It was a lot of fun,” Gibson said. “It was one of those things that was a little bittersweet. I was just talking with Neil (Allen), and obviously I didn’t really want to see family at that time. But I found out I was going to Indy, and there was a little bittersweet excitement. I got to see my grandparents who I haven’t seen in four months. They’re 80 years old and getting older, so I got a chance to have some really good quality time with the family.” Gibson’s paternal grandfather isn’t able to travel much and his grandmother on that side doesn’t care much for baseball unless he’s pitching.
Gibson said he didn’t really change up too much at Rochester. “Mollie and Neil only had good things to say,” Gibson said. “I think it was just a numbers game at the time. They said ‘Just keep doing what you’re doing.’ I felt good against Detroit and Houston. I had a little unlucky stuff there, but I’ve been feeling really good. I feel like execution has been a lot better. I’m still trying to get ahead of guys and execute as many pitches as possible.”
Gibson lasted five innings in his only start down with the Red Wings, allowing just one hit with five strikeouts and no walks in an outing interrupted by a 50-minute rain delay.
Here’s how the Twins will line up against Perez:
— Brandon Warne (@Brandon_Warne) August 4, 2017
Here’s how the Rangers will counter:
— Rangers Lineup (@TEXLineup) August 4, 2017
Colon changed up his repertoire a bit last time out against Oakland — easily his best start to date with the Twins — and his manager certainly took notice. “I noticed the increase in changeups,” Molitor said. “Maybe the sliders not as much. An increase would be more than two in the slider department. I think he knows he’s got to at least show those at times to keep them in the mix. You can rely on movement and being able to command both sides of the plate. Obviously, he’s shown he can be effective with that, but I think it’s nice to have those as options, especially knowing the tendencies of some of those hitters.”
Colon completed 6.1 innings against the A’s last time out, striking out a batter and walking another while allowing three earned runs on eight hits. That was Colon’s only walk as a Twin, although he’s also only fanned six batters and has induced swinging strikes on just 4 percent of his pitches. Brooks Baseball corroborates the claim that Colon bumped up the usage on some of his secondary pitches. Against the A’s, Colon threw a fastball of some type 76.9 percent of the time, with a changeup 12.6 percent of the time and a slider 10.5 percent. His season marks for those pitches this season entering the last start were 83.6 percent fastballs, 8.6 percent changeups and 7.2 percent sliders.
Perez has not been particularly remarkable at any point in his six-year big-league career, and his season numbers are pretty much in line with his career marks. His ERA is about a half-run higher, and his WHIP is elevated, but his K/9 and BB/9 marks are right in line with what to expect from the 26-year-old lefty.
Perez had a particularly bad July, posting his second month in a row with a 6.30 ERA. He also fanned just 3.9 batters per nine innings and allowed 38 hits in just 30 innings. For the season, opposing batters are hitting a robust .316/.374/.471 against Perez, with righties especially racing to the bat rack to face him. Righties have an .873 OPS against Perez this season, while lefties are at just .743. Similarly, just one of the 13 home runs Perez has allowed have come off a left-handed bat, and only six of the 43 extra-base hits he’s allowed this season have come from lefties.
This would be a good spot for a bounce-back game from Miguel Sano, who is hitting just .224/.293/.418 since the All-Star break.
Hector Santiago was back at Target Field after throwing 5.2 solid rehab innings for Triple-A Rochester against Lehigh Valley. Santiago allowed just one earned run on five hits with nine strikeouts and a walk, and 60 of his 89 pitches were strikes. It doesn’t sound like a roster move is imminent with Santiago however, as the Twins are still in the process of figuring out what his role will be when he returns. Also, after throwing 89 pitches on Thursday, he won’t be available for at least another three or four days, anyway.
“It’s not finalized yet,” Molitor said of the plan for Santiago to eventually rejoin the MLB roster. “Obviously, last night was the best outing he’s had of the three. He escalated with his pitch count, and the command of the fastball was probably the biggest improvement we saw last night. Changeup was there. The breaking pitch probably not as much from what I’ve heard. He threw more strikes, got deep in the game and got the Red Wings a win. So we’re going to try to see what the next step is.”
Molitor also wasn’t certain what Santiago’s role would be, with Gibson filling the fifth starter role presently but Dillon Gee working as the long man — including soaking up three innings on Thursday night. “We’re going to have to look at options of how we’re going to proceed,” Molitor said. “Including our roster after the game tonight for Gibby.”
The writing would seem to be on the wall for outfielder Zack Granite, who is not in Friday night’s lineup and has played just one game since July 30. Certainly part of that was the lack of a designated hitter in San Diego, but he’s also hitting just .254/.319/.286 through 69 MLB plate appearances.
Ryan O’Rourke was packing up a box of his personal effects to send back home in a bit of a late summer house cleaning, and said he was feeling good and progressing nicely in his return from Tommy John surgery in early May. O’Rourke doesn’t have a timeline for his return, but he did get on a mound for the first time since surgery to do some dry throws — without a baseball, in other words — on Friday. He has an appointment with Dr. David Altchek — the surgeon who operated on him in New York City — at the end of August to determine the next step.
Old Friend Updates
Left-handed reliever Craig Breslow, who was released by the Twins on July 30, has signed a minor-league deal with the Cleveland Indians according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com out of Boston.
During pregame, the press box had the Cubs-Nationals game on the television and Brandon Kintzler was working in the seventh inning for Washington. Kintzler took over for Tanner Roark after he’d allowed a two-run home run to narrow the lead to 3-2, and got back-to-back grounders to retire Ian Happ and Kris Bryant to end the threat in a 4-2 win at Wrigley Field. Kintzler was credited with his first hold of the season, and has now worked two scoreless innings with two strikeouts, one walk and no hits allowed since the trade.
Jaime Garcia, who was traded to the New York Yankees on July 31, will make his team debut against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on Friday night. He’ll face righty Trevor Bauer.
Glen Perkins threw a scoreless inning with Single-A Fort Myers on Thursday on 15 pitches. Perkins has thrown 4.2 innings between the GCL Twins and the Miracle, and has allowed three earned runs (5.79 ERA). He allowed a home run in his July 31 appearance against Clearwater.
Notes and Quotes
- The Twins are just 1-4 in their last five games, 2-8 over their last 10, 5-10 over their last 15 and 6-14 over their last 20.
- After a tough road trip, the Twins are now just 28-23 in away games and 23-32 at Target Field.
- The Twins’ 10-win July was easily their lowest total of the season. They went 12-11 in April, 14-12 in May, 14-15 in June and 10-15 in July.
- Third base coach Gene Glynn was back with the Twins prior to Friday’s game. He had missed Thursday’s game to tend to a personal matter.
- Molitor on tinkering with the lineup, especially since the Twins have struggled (84 wRC+) against left-handed pitching this season: “We talk about lineup construction pretty much every day. Every once in awhile, I just go ahead and do what I feel when I have something in my mind when I go home at night after a game and put together the next day’s lineup. But, I try to include my coaches’ opinions and different ways we can be creative without being foolish, or be creative without looking like you’re panicking. At the end of the day — and I hate that line — I look at that a lot. Especially since we’re struggling scoring runs right now. And it still looks a little different. We’re not going with the same thing. It changes — pretty much daily lately.”
- After Gee threw 64 pitches, Molitor said he wasn’t sure how many days he’d need off. “We’ll have to see,” Molitor said. “I think three is probably more likely. We’ll see how he feels.”
- Gee had more swinging strikes in three innings on Thursday night (11) than Colon has in three starts (10) with the Twins.