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The Twins Beat

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

Twins hope nerves are gone; Yankees pitch their ace Wednesday

    NEW YORK — The Twins didn’t win last night, but they could have. Paul Molitor hopes that realization helps his team relax and hit a little bit better tonight against CC Sabathia than they did against Jaime Garcia.

    “Let’s hope so. [It’s] another challenge to go out there tonight and try to find a way to score some runs off an established, veteran pitcher who’s had a good year,” Molitor said. “Collectively, you hope that second night in here, maybe there’s a little bit more relaxed approached to the game. They now kind of get what it’s like to play here in September. We’ve just got to try to give our pitcher a little bit more support.”

    That pitcher is Jose Berrios, who has never pitched in New York before. He’s 1-0 against the Yankees, though, having limited them to one run over 6 1/3 innings at Target Field in July. The Twins have a lot of confidence in the 23-year-old righthander, but they know he’s got a lot on his mind these days, too. In addition to pitching in the middle of a postseason race, Berrios became a father for the third time last week, and now Hurricane Maria, another category 5 storm, is about to slam his Puerto Rican homeland.

    “He and Kennys [Vargas] and Rosie [Eddie Rosario] are all dealing with another bout of anxiety related to their homeland,” Molitor said. “I haven’t checked with them on it specifically today, [but it’s] hard to imagine it’s not at least a little bit on their minds.”

    Meanwhile, the Twins learned that Wednesday’s challenge has grown a little bigger. Yankees manager Joe Girardi had planned to give his ace, righthander Luis Severino, an extra day off and start Masahiro Tanaka in the series finale instead. But Girardi announced Tuesday that he’s changed his mind — in order to have the flexibility to start Severino three times in the season’s final two weeks, just in case there’s a chance of catching Boston for the AL East title, he’s going to keep Severino on his regular rest, which means starting him Wednesday.

    Severino is 13-6 with a 2.93 ERA and 218 strikeouts in 184 innings this season, and if the Yankees don’t catch the Red Sox, he’s the likely starter in a wild-card game. So getting an early look at him might help the Twins in a couple of weeks, but it makes their task more difficult this week.

    Tonight, the Twins face lefty Sabathia, who has a career 18-9 record against the Twins and a 3.16 ERA. Max Kepler gets a start in right field, even though his contributions against left-handers have been so scarce this season. Kepler has one extra-base hit against left-handed pitching since April 15.

    Here are the lineups for the second of three games in Yankee Stadium:

TWINS

 

Dozier 2B

Mauer 1B

Polanco SS

Escobar 3B

Buxton CF

Rosario LF

Grossman DH

Gimenez C

Kepler RF

 

Berrios RHP

 

YANKEES

 

Gardner LF

Judge RF

Sanchez C

Gregorius SS

Headley DH

Castro 2B

Ellsbury CF

Frazier 3B

Bird 1B

 

Sabathia LHP

Postgame: Garcia looked good, if different, to former Twins teammates

    NEW YORK — Three extras from the first of three games in the Bronx:    

    The Twins were impressed with Jaime Garcia, the temp they hired for their starting rotation for a week in July. The lefthander, acquired from Atlanta and moved on to New York in the space of six days, struck out nine of the first 13 hitters he faced on Monday, and at least one Twin believes his one start for the Twins was part of the reason.

    “When he threw [for the Twins], he threw a lot of fastballs,” said Eddie Rosario, who swung at a slider for strike three in his first at-bat, then singled the next time up. “Now he looks different. A lot of down pitches, a lot of balls. This was a good day for him.”

    Garcia looked different in another way, too: The tightly shaved beard he wore as a Twin fell victim to Yankee rules against facial hair.

XXX

    One valuable lesson for the Twins to remember if they come back here in two weeks: Don’t let the Yankees take a lead to the late innings. They knew that already, but wow, did Aroldis Chapman remind them again Monday.

    Chapman, summoned when Dellin Betances walked the bases full in the eighth, struck out Joe Mauer on three pitches — 100, 101 and 102 mph — then got Byron Buxton to fly out.

    “We know their bullpen’s tough. It’s a tough team to come from behind on,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “We had an opportunity, got some guys on base, and they kind of took over with velocity from that point forward. … Joe’s as good at anybody at battling, but velocity won out there.”

    Chapman threw only one fastball in the strike zone to Eddie Rosario, turning mostly to his slider instead, a fact that Rosario took as a compliment. But he sounded a little disappointed that he didn’t get a chance to turn on one of those 102-mph heaters.

    “He’s a tough lefty. Throws 100,” Rosario said, “I want to fight him.”

XXX

    It was a tough night for Twins catchers, who didn’t foil any of the Yankees’ four stolen base attempts, allowed two wild pitches to get by, and even committed the first instance of catcher’s interference by a Twin in three seasons.

    Most of the problems belonged to Jason Castro, though Chris Gimenez gave up a stolen base after Molitor pinch-hit for Castro in the eighth inning in order to have Zack Granite execute a sacrifice bunt.

    Castro tipped Jacoby Ellsbury’s bat in the second inning, so Ellsbury was awarded first base. Not since Josmil Pinto did the same to Lonnie Chisenhall on May 8, 2014, had a Twin committed that infraction, but it seems to happen to Ellsbury a lot. Monday’s instance was the 30th catcher’s interference of Ellsbury’s career, extending the major-league record that he already holds.

 

Bottom 3rd R H E
Minnesota 78-72 2 4 0
NY Yankees 83-67 1 2 0

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