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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 look to close out the Tigers and close in on a wild card spot


It's pretty simple what has happened.

The Twins have done what they have needed to do, and everyone else has failed.

The Angels have lost six straight, including the last two to Houston. They have had some matchups lately. That brought the Rangers within a prayer of the second wild card spot, but Texas coughed up just four hits while losing 1-0 last night to an A's team that has little to play for.

So the Twins wake up today with a 41/2 game lead for the second wild card spot. Barring a total collapse, they are taking this one to the house. Remember, the Twins have not lost more than four consecutive games all season.

On Sunday, they will have a chance to sweep Detroit in a four-game series. The Tigers have lost 13 of their last 15 games, and are showing little fight once they fall behind. Twins manager Paul Molitor often talks about being greedy at these times, and this sure is one opportunity they need to pounce on.

Twins outfielder Max Kepler was not in the starting lineup as he deals with a sore left hip he suffered while fielding and throwing a ball back into the infield on Saturday. 

Kepler received treatment on his injury before the game, and indicated that he's doesn't believe it is serious and considers himself to be available off the bench today.

"They are saying that it is just a bruise," Kepler said, "and I believe that. I would not say it is comfortable but it is manageable."

Zack Granite will start in place of Kepler, but will play left field while Eddie Rosario slides over to right.

Tigers righthander Alex Wilson spoke to reporters today while sitting on a couch in Detroit's clubhouse. His right leg was in a hard cast after a liner from Joe Mauer in the eighth inning led to a fracture.

Wilson said the break is about three inches above his ankle, and that he should be, "good to go," by the middle of December.

A Tigers reported mentioned how strange it was for Mauer to hit him since he usually hits everything to left.

"I almost feel just as bad for him," Wilson said of Mauer. "He's like the nicest guy in baseball."

Twins

Brian Dozier, 2B
Joe Mauer, DH
Jorge Polanco, SS
Eddie Rosario, RF
Eduardo Escobar, 3B
Byron Buxton, CF
Jason Castro, C
Kennys Vargas, 1B
Zack Granite, LF

Jose Berrios, RHP

Tigers

Ian Kinsler, DH
Alex Presley, RF
Nicholas Castellanos, 3B
Efrem Navarro, 1B
James McCann, C
Dixon Machado, 2B
Andrew Romine, LF
JaCoby Jones, CF
Jose Iglesias, SS

Buck Farmer, RHP

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.

Top 9th R H E
Minnesota 81-74 10 13 0
Detroit 62-93 2 7 1

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