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The Twins Beat

La Velle E. Neal III and Phil Miller report on the Twins from wherever they make news

Santana on the mound as Twins go for three straight in Detroit

After beating Daniel Norris on Friday, the Twins are 24-23 against lefthanded starters this season. They have another one on the mound tonight in Matthew Boyd - who presents a different challenge.

Boyd is 6-10, 5.33, but took a no-hitter into the ninth inning in his last on Saturday against the White Sox before Tim Anderson broke it up with two outs. When he's on, Boyd can take advantage of aggressive hitters like the Twins have. He's faced the Twins four times this season, going 2-0 with a 3.68 ERA. Twins fans will remember the April 22 game at Target Field in which Boyd threw behind Miguel Sano, touching off a benches-clearing incident that lead to Sano receiving a one-game suspension.

There has been no bad blood between the teams since, but the Tigers might be itching for payback after losing the first two games of this series.

The Twins are not adverse to this lefty, and have their standard lineup in play. That's because lefties are hitting .329 against Boyd with a .400 on base percentage. Righthanders slug better against him, .481 to .429 for lefties, which leads to about the same OPS, .830 for righties and .829 for lefties.

The Angels already have lost to Houston 6-2. That's six straight losses. The Rangers are at the A's, first pitch at 8 p.m.

In other news:

Only Bartolo Colon is listed as a starter for the upcoming series in Cleveland. Twins manager Paul Molitor said that spent considerable time on Saturday discussing the rotation over the last week of the season. They could try to bring Kyle Gibson back a day early sometime next week to get him two starts.  It's easy to see why. Gibson is 7-3 with a 3.57 ERA since the All-Star break, the most wins and lowest ERA of any starter. As the Twins try to lock down the second wild card, they have to put the right pitchers in line to make it happen. The odds are that they go Colon-Mejia-Santana against Cleveland. We'll see.

Cleveland, for now, will start Josh Tomlin on Tuesday and Danny Salazar on Wednesday.

Miguel Sano is only receiving treatment on his injured shin. No baseball activities for now, which pretty much confirms that he will not be able to play if the Twins reach the wild card round. He's missed over a month of games and has not been able to run. He's going to continue to undergo treatment in case the Twins can play beyond the first round and he takes a turn for the better. But I would not count on him.

The Twins have spent recent days scouting potential playoff opponents in the American League. For instance, Vern Followell, their pro scouting coordinator, is following Cleveland. Jeremy Hefner, who does advance work through video, will also assist.


Twins

Brian Dozier, 2B
Joe Mauer, 1B
Jorge Polanco, SS
Eddie Rosario, LF
Eduardo Escobar, 3B
Byron Buxton, CF
Max Kepler, RF
Robbie Grossman, DH
Jason Castro, C

Matthew Boyd, LHP

Tigers

Ian Kinsler, 2B
Alex Presley, DH
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Nicholas Castellanos, RF
Jeimer Candelario, 3B
Bryan Holaday, C
Andrew Romine, LF
JaCoby Jones, CF
Jose Iglesias, SS

Ervin Santana, RHP

Postgame: Kepler is heating up for the Twins

Here are three thoughts from LEN3 following the Twins win over Detroit:


KEPLER SURGING: Last night, Max Kepler got hits in each of his last two at bats, and Twins manager Paul Molitor hoped it was the start of hot streak for the outfielder. Kepler then homered in his first at bat then hit a two-strike slider from Daniel Norris opposite-field single in his second at bat. "Hopefully he's getting a little confidence back." A productive Kepler could be a big boost to the offense down the stretch.

ESCOBAR'S GLOVE: Eduardo Escobar has done a decent job of filling in for Miguel Sano at the plate. Where he's better than Sano is in the field, and he was credited with four assists on Friday. Among those, he helped start a 5-4-3 double play in the second and made a nice play to his right to get a force out in the eighth. The Twins knew they had a capable glove there in place of Sano, so any offense is a bonus. But you wonder how a few games would have turned out if Sano, who's not a smooth at Escobar, had been on the hot corner.

GIBSON: Twins starters since the All-Star break: Kyle Gibson: 7-3, 3.57 ERA. Ervin Santana: 5-2, 3.87. Jose Berrios: 4-6, 4.37. Bartolo Colon: 4-6, 5.33. Think about that.

WILD CARD WATCH: At the time of this writing, the Angels had lost 3-0 to Houston to fall 3.5 games back of the Twins. Texas was losing at Oakland. If that holds up, the Twins will have a 3.5 game lead on both teams with eight games to go.

5:10 PM (FSN)
Minnesota 80-74
Detroit 62-92

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