SEATTLE — The Twins get a second chance against veteran lefthander Wade LeBlanc tonight, and Paul Molitor has a suggestion for his team: Quit looking at the pitch-speed board.
LeBlanc, a 33-year-old whose fastball rarely reaches 90 mph but has unusual late movement, pitched six shutout innings in Target Field 12 days ago, and Molitor believes those speed numbers were part of the reason.
“Guys have a tendency when they see the radar gun down, they go up there thinking they’re going to hit every ball 450 feet. It doesn’t work that way,” the Twins manager said. “You’ve got to stay short, you’ve got to recognize that cutter, and if you get big on it, you’re going to pop it up like we did about 15 times last week. Hopefully we learned a little bit. He knows what he’s doing out there.”
He does, but so does Jake Odorizzi, which is the Twins’ best hope for snapping their losing streak at two games. Odorizzi has allowed only two total runs in his last three starts, and though he only pitched 16 2/3 in those games, he’s turned into a reliable performer. “It’s encouraging. Teams that have aspirations of being competitive and playing into October, the starting rotation is such a big part of that,” he said. “Odo has been about as steady as anybody, and hopefully he’ll keep it going tonight.”
In an interesting decision, Molitor chose to keep Miguel Sano at first base, even with Logan Morrison, who had played the position most of the time since Joe Mauer was injured, back in the lineup.
Here are the lineups for the second of three games at Safeco Field: