Hector Santiago will be back on the Target Field mound tonight for the first time in more than a year, since May 31, 2017. That wasn’t a good performance, and truthfully, Santiago didn’t have many good ones last season, at least not after mid-May, which is why he was allowed to walk away at season’s end.
This season, after signing with the White Sox over the winter, hasn’t been great either, but Santiago did show signs of being a useful member of the bullpen, getting a half-dozen stints of two innings or more in April. His ERA as a reliever, in fact, is 3.10.
But injuries have forced the veteran lefthander back into the rotation, and the extra exposure hasn’t been good; his ERA in six starts is 6.59. Still, Twins manager Paul Molitor is wary.
“He knows what he’s doing out there. There are times when his command can be a little elusive, and you can create some opportunities if you’re patient enough to make him throw it over,” Molitor said. “He knows us well. It’s just a matter of being on the right side of the execution tonight.”
Santiago allowed eight runs in 3 1/3 innings when the Twins were in Chicago one month ago.
Meanwhile, Jake Odorizzi has been rather up-and-down himself, and the Twins have lost three of his last four starts. He’s coming off his worst start of the season, when he allowed eight runs over 3 2/3 innings against Cleveland, and would like to get back on track.
Miguel Sano will be in the lineup at first base, but he’s been dropped to fifth in the batting order in order to bunch hotter hitters — Eddie Rosario and Eduardo Escobar in particular — higher in the order. Sano is 2-or-14 with seven strikeouts in June.
“We all can see that he’s going through a little bit of a rough time [with regards to] pitch recognition and some of the chase factors,” Molitor said. “I’m not afraid to try different combinations.”
For one more day, those combinations don’t include Logan Morrison, though the designated hitter and first baseman said he is much better today. Morrison’s lower back grew stiff late in Sunday’s game, and on Monday and Tuesday, he couldn’t pivot is body without pain. But some stretching and soft-tissue massage has helped the pain dissipate, and it doesn’t appear he will go on the disabled list.
“I don’t think playing nine innings is the best thing for him today,” Molitor said. “He might be available in some capacity, with the idea of hopefully being back in the starting lineup tomorrow.”
Here are the lineups for the third game of the four-game series: