Kohl Stewart must think this is how things work in the major leagues: First, they honor Jack Morris, then you get to pitch.
Stewart makes his second start for the Twins tonight, and just like his debut last Sunday, he’ll wait until an on-field ceremony celebrating Morris’ induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame concludes. This one won’t be quite as elaborate as the number-retirement ceremony at Comerica Park last week, but it will push back the start of tonight’s game to around 6:25 p.m.
Paul Molitor will take part in lionizing his fellow St. Paul native, and former Twins manager Tom Kelly is here for it, too. Then Molitor will be interested in seeing how Stewart builds upon his first outing in the majors.
“I would imagine he’s at least a tad more relaxed tonight, even though it’s his first game here at Target Field,” Molitor said. “If he learned anything, it’s if you make pitches up here, it’s the same way it is in Triple-A: You’re going to get people out. They’re better and you have to be a little more careful. But it doesn’t take long to trust that if you’ve got pitches, you can do your job here.”
Stewart pitched four shutout innings last Sunday before giving up four straight singles and a walk in the fifth, his day ending with three runs allowed. Molitor loved all the ground balls the former first-round pick induced, but “I’d like to see a little better command of his secondary pitches to keep guys off his sinker,” he said.
It’s a matchup of rookies, since the Tigers will start lefthander Ryan Carpenter, making his fifth career appearance. Carpenter owns a 6.39 ERA thus far, though he gave up only one run over four innings in his last big-league start, May 31 against the Angels.
Here are the lineups as the Twins try to extend their winning streak to five straight games: