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The Twins Beat

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

Kepler leaves Saturday's Twins game with hip injury

Here are some thoughts following the Twins 10-4 (good buddy) win over Detroit:


KEPLER UPDATE: Right fielder Max Kepler left the game after the first inning when he injured his left hip while fielding and throwing Miguel Carbera's single. Kepler fell sideways as he threw he ball back in. He was replaced by Ehire Adrianza. "He's O.K." Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "He just kind of took an awkward fall. We're going to check him out in the morning, but I don't think it is anything major." Molitor said Kepler tried to swing a bat after the inning but felt some discomfort. So the Twins are being cautious. We'll know more tomorrow after Kepler is evaluated again.

WILSON'S INJURY: When Joe Mauer's line drive struck Justin Wilson, we all knew it got him pretty good. Wilson went down to the ground for a few moments but got up and went to the mound to throw a pitch. Standard stuff. But Wilson flinched as he tried to push off of his right leg, hopped on his good leg then went down to the ground. Then he limped off the field. But no one was prepared for the announcement that Wilson had broken his lower right leg. Are you kidding me???? I hope attempting the warmup pitch didn't make matters worse.

ESCOBAR DETERMINED TO BUNT: The count was 1-1 in the eighth when Twins manager Paul Molitor asked Eduardo Escobar to bunt. Escobar took it for a ball. Molitor believed Escobar could get a hit, so he tool the bunt off. But Escobar continued to bunt. Escobar is not comfortable hitting from the right side at the moment, so he kept trying to lay one down. But Tigers pitcher Daniel Stumpf kept missing the plate. So the count goes full, Escobar swings and bloops a single just over Ian Kinsler at second. You can't make this stuff up. It was one of several big hits in what was the pivotal inning of the game.

GRANITE'S HOMER: The final blow of the inning was Zack Granite's three-run homer. He made the record books with the blast, as he became the first Twin to pinch run and homer in the same inning. And he's the first one to do it in the majors since Darren Lewis in 2001. Granite circled the bases and headed for the dugout, where teammates did not give him the silent treatment. "It was good," Granite said. "They were laughing. They were happy. It was cool. I was giving Garver some stuff for beating him to a home run." Granite knew he made Twins history, but wasn't aware that it's been 16 years since the last time it occurred. "Wow, that's kinda cool," he said. "I like being part of history. And hopefully we can make history this year." The Twins are getting close.

CRAZY SUNDAY: When the announced that Sunday's game was going to start at Noon Eastern to avoid a conflict with the Lions-Falcons game across the street, I figured the Lions were the night game. But noooooo. The Lions are playing at 1 p.m. Eastern. How is that going to help things? It's going to be nuts around here, with Lions fans partying at 9 a.m. while we're trying to enter the park. Should be a crazy afternoon. But potentially a big one for the Twins, as they look to sweep Detroit in a four-game series.

WILD CARD WATCH: The Angels lost to Houston and have dropped six straight to fall 41/2 games behind the Twins. That leaves Texas, and I'm watching the game right now. Mazara strikes out for one out. Andrus strikes out for the second out. Beltre is up. Beltre ahead 3-0. Takes a strike. Swings and misses. The count is full. Base hit. Rangers stay alive. Carlos Gomez bounces into a force play. A's win 1-0. That means the Twins lead the wild card by 4.5 games over the Angels and Rangers. The Twins have seven games left. Texas and Los Angeles have eight. Wow.

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

Final, 9/23 R H E
Minnesota 81-74 10 12 0
Detroit 62-93 4 8 1

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