Kyle Gibson’s first pitch to J.D. Martinez, the third batter in Boston’s lineup, came in armpit-high and way inside during the first inning Thursday. The Red Sox slugger tumbled backward to the ground to avoid getting hit.
Rick Porcello’s first pitch to Eduardo Escobar, the third batter in Minnesota’s lineup, came in neck-high and way inside. The Twins’ hottest hitter took evasive action as best he could.
“I saw the ball coming to my face,” Escobar said. “I was trying to cover my head, and it hit my elbow.”
Escobar laid on the ground in pain for about 90 seconds, as Twins manager Paul Molitor and assistant trainer Matt Biancuzzo tended to him. The hit batter was Porcello’s 10th of the season, tying him for the major league lead, and the coincidence seemed a little fishy to Molitor.
Was Porcello retaliating for his teammate being knocked down?
“It didn’t look too good to me,” Molitor said tersely.
Porcello has walked only 22 batters in 99 innings.
The effect of the two pitches was one-sided in Boston’s favor. Martinez got up and, with Gibson distracted by Mookie Betts on first base, drew a four-pitch walk. Escobar got a deep bruise just above his elbow — the Twins were relieved when no fracture was found — with the stitching marks visible on his skin. After Escobar winced through a strikeout in the third inning, Molitor removed him from the game.
Did Escobar believe there was intent behind the plunking?
“I respect Porcello a lot. He’s one of the best pitchers in the league,” Escobar said through interpreter Elvis Martinez. “If he did it on purpose, I don’t really know what the purpose is behind it. I’ve never done anything against him. I was trying to protect myself, and we’ll just move on.”
Escobar iced his elbow, and planned to do so again after his “Dinner With Esky” charity event for local Spanish-speaking kids later Thursday night.
“We’ll see what happens [Friday],” he said.
And next month, too: The Twins visit Fenway Park on July 26-29.
Rosario sits out
It wasn’t the huge windup-and-fall-forward throw that Eddie Rosario tried to make Saturday in Cleveland, or the throw from the warning track Wednesday night in Target Field. Rosario’s right shoulder has been a minor nagging issue since spring training. And while it probably wasn’t too sore to prevent him from playing Thursday, Molitor said, the Twins have good reason for being careful.
“We’re trying to keep the big picture in mind. So we’re going to back him off,” the Twins manager said before the game. “It’s one of those things where you think what you’re doing is best for the player for the long term. I’m sure he would like to be part of the game.”
A guy who has had hits in 20 of his past 24 games definitely wanted to be in the lineup, but after hearing that the soreness had flared up again, Molitor decided a day game after two night games was the right time to give him an extra day off. The Twins have games scheduled on 24 of the next 25 games, after all.
Rosario said he objected, but “it’s not my decision.” The soreness is different from his spring training problem, but it’s not serious, he said. Will he play Friday?
“Yeah, play tomorrow,” Rosario said. “One hundred percent.”
• Shortstop Jorge Polanco’s injured finger has become infected, further delaying his preparation to return from suspension. Polanco jammed the finger in a door 10 days ago, and was unable to begin playing with Class AAA Rochester last Sunday as originally planned. The Twins hope Polanco will be able to report to Rochester by the start of next week, but he must be placed on the 25-man roster (or on the disabled list) when his 80-game steroids suspension expires July 2.
• Outfielder Alex Kirilloff, the Twins’ first-round pick in 2016, batted third for the Class A Fort Myers Miracle on Thursday, his first game since being promoted from low-A Cedar Rapids. Miguel Sano was not in the Miracle lineup.
• By agreeing to terms with their picks from rounds 12 (Jon Olsen), 17 (Erik Cha) and 28 (Austin Hale) on Wednesday, the Twins have now signed 24 of their 39 draft picks, the team announced.