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The Twins Beat

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

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.

Gibson is on the mound for Twins in Detroit, will more runs be scored?

Today's driving adventure included being tailgated despite going considerably faster than the posted speed. They don't fake the funk over here.

But Detroit is fighting back after years of looking like a dying city. Building Comerica Park and Ford Field was one phase, but now Little Caesar's Arena is up and running, and there's light rail. I was driving through downtown on the way to the ballpark, and it was busting with stores full of people and some outdoor golf bazaar.

The next two days will be nuts down here. The Red Wings play their first game ever at Little Caesar's  tomorrow night - during the Twins-Tigers games. And the Tigers-Twins game on Sunday is starting at 11 a.m. central because the Lions play next door at night. So it will be hopping - or people on hops.

The Twins will face lefty Daniel Norris tonight. He wasn't announced as starter until after last night's game, as Tigers manager Brad Ausmus wanted to see who would be available after the game. Seven pitchers were used last night, and it will be interesting to see who Ausmus will turn to tonight.

Norris pitched in relief on Sept. 16, throwing 58 pitches. So he might not have more than 75 bullets in him tonight. Once again, the Twins will be rewarded if they can knock Norris out early and get into that middle relief.

Both Brian Dozier and Eddie Rosario have home runs against Norris.

Kyle Gibson is on the mound tonight, which means the Twins have a chance to score a few more runs. The Twins are averaging 7.8 runs a game in his starts, the most in the AL for any pitcher with at least 26 starts.

Some quick hits:

The Rangers have won four straight and now are tied with the Angels, both teams 2.5 games back of the Twins. So we expand our wild card watch. The Angels are at Houston (Richards vs Verlander) while the Rangers are at Oakland (Martinez vs Graveman).  Twins have to stay on the throttle.

Brad Ausmus will not return as Tigers manager next season, GM Al Avila said. Ausmus will manage the team through the end of the season. Paging, Ron Gardenhire.

Joe Mauer is expected to play in all the remaining games of the season, Molitor said before the game. Molitor has been careful to give Mauer time off during the season, and it has paid off. 


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

Kyle Gibson, RHP


Who knows? They are canning Ausmus and apparently don't care about releasing one.

Final, 9/22 R H E
Minnesota 80-74 7 10 0
Detroit 62-92 3 6 0

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