The Twins Beat Logo

Blog

The Twins Beat

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

Twins try to savor unexpected run to the postseason


When the clubhouse was opened to the media following the game, emotions were still a little raw. Players hugged each other, congratulating each other on a good season - but still lamenting missed opportunities in their 8-4 loss to the Yankees.

"It stinks pretty good right now," said first baseman Joe Mauer, who was 1-for-5 but grounded into a double play and stranded two runners on base. "I told the guys to not let it take away from what we accomplished this year, but its pretty tough right now."

Twins manager Paul Molitor conveyed the same thoughts in the moments after the game, followed by Mauer's remarks. The Twins had the Yankees on the ropes and they let them off in a crazy game in which both starters were knocked out of the game after two innings. They will return to the Twin Cities with that hanging over their heads. But it was a good season in which they served notice that they will be a treat for the next few seasons.

"This team is going to be good," Eddie Rosario said.

"Are we satisfied? Absolutely not," second baseman Brian Dozier said. "But I'm incredibly proud of these guys how we battled and competed. It was unbelievable."

With that, he are a few thoughts from LEN3 after the Twins' season comes to an end:

MOLITOR'S FUTURE: Paul Molitor was asked after the game about his future, but he declined to answer the question. His fate is in the hands of CBO Derek Falvey and GM Thad Levine, and I would not be surprised if they let him go after the season. There's been some rumblings about that in recent weeks. Plus, Falvine is unpredictable.

Byung Ho Park was great in spring training, but they still left him in the minors. They changed their minds about being buyers a few days after dealing for Jaime Garcia then shipped him to the Yankees. Then they traded closer Brandon Kintzler. That might have been moves to light a fire under this squad.

Molitor is a leading candidate to win manager of the year. After losing 103 games last season, he should win the award. How is that going to look if he's not brought back? The next two days are going to be very interesting. We were told after the game that there will be nothing announced Wednesday.

THE WALK: One at bat can change an entire game, and I feel it happened in the bottom of the first inning with Ervin Santana walked Brett Gardner. The Yankees had just watched the Twins hit two home runs in the first inning to take a 3-0 lead and serve notice that they came to play. But as soon as Santana walked Gardner on five pitches, the crowd jumped back into the game. The Yanks tied the game. And the Twins were in trouble.

BUXTON'S INJURY: Outfielder Byron Buxton jumped back into the wall while catching Todd Frazier's drive in the second inning and fell down on his back. After reaching base on a fielder's choice and stealing second the next inning, Buxton was seen trying to stretch his back. But his back locked up on him, forcing him from the game. "I was told after he had the at-bat after the collision with the wall that he was locked up on his swing, and when he tried to run, even though he got to second, he just physically wasn't going to be able to go," Molitor said. "So I didn't see him at that point. I was just told by the trainers that I need to make a change."

GRANITE DOES WELL, THEN DOESN'T DO SO WELL: Zack Granite replaced Buxton. He singled to right in the sixth, which had to be a thrill for the Staten Island product, as well as his friends and family. Then came the eighth. Granite hit a ground to first baseman Greg Bird, who flipped to reliever Tommy Kahnle. But Kahnle dropped the throw. Granite was going to be safe, but he inexplicably stepped OVER first base, not on it. He was eventually tagged out in what wasn't his finest moment. He was replaced the next inning. 

GOING TO THE BULLPEN: I had no problem with Molitor sending Ervin Santana back out for the second inning. Some folks on twitter demanded that Jose Berrios take over at that point. But we have to remember that the Twins bullpen is not the Yankees bullpen. And once that bullpen door swings open once, is going to open again and again and again. I could understand why Molitor didn't want to go down that road. Santana ended up giving up another run - but Berrios gave up three runs of his own, so I'm not sure how things would have changed with Berrios going out for the second inning. And, ultimately, the Twins needed to keep scoring runs. They had shots against the best bullpen in baseball but failed to capitalize.

ETC: Eddie Rosario homered during his first major league at-bat - which he did on May 6, 2015 - and on his first-ever postseason at-bat...the Yankees 1-through-4 hitters went 7-for-15 with 3 HR and 6 RBI...Joe Mauer has one extra base hit in 40 postseason at-bats...the Twins are 2-13 in the postseason against the Yankees....the Twins have lost 13 straight postseason games, tying the Red Sox (1986-95) for the longest postseason losing streak.


Keep checking back here over the next few days as we get clarity on the Twins managerial and coaching futures. Eddie Guardado and James Rowson are under contract for 2018, but there could be other moves in the near future.

Persistent pain in left leg keeps Sano off of wild card game roster

Miguel Sano went into the indoor cages in Yankee Stadium on Monday to get some swings in. And the Twins realized about that time that their slugging third baseman was not ready to play in biggest game of the year.

So the club submitted its roster for the wild card game without Sano, who has been unable to heal after suffering a stress reaction in his left shin on Aug. 18.

"I was still open-minded, despite the fact I knew Sunday was not a good day, that he might be available in one at bat, one swing," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "He went to the cage before we took the filed yesterday and was just having trouble bracing on his front side and couldn't get any leverage on his swing.

"The persistent discomfort he is dealing with is not conducive to him contributing. I give him credit for trying to cram."

Sano appeared in the final three games of the regular season, which was his first action since Aug, 19. He went 1-for-8 with three strikeouts, as his bat looked rusty. The Twins hoped that Sano could come off the bench to provide a threat late in tonight's game. But they will have to proceed like they have over the last six weeks without him.

"He was emotional when I talked to him," Molitor said. "I'm trying to understand and be empathetic to a guy who desperately wants to play and be a part of this. I'm sure he is frustrated. It gets taken away from you and the answers are hard to come by. I think it has been hard for him."

Sano remains an option for the ALDS roster - provided that the Twins win tonight. It would be easier to carry him as the last man on the roster in that format.

So the Twins went with an 11-man pitching staff for tonight's game. Gabriel Moya was in the running to be the third lefty out of the pen, but that role is going to Adalberto Mejia. Molitor said he could not come up with a scenario in which he would need Moya in a nine-inning game. While Mejia could appear during the game, it suggests he would be used if the game goes into extra innings.

"If the game gets extended past nine, I feel good about having Mejia, I'll tell you that," Molitor said.

Molitor said he team appeared to be loose. There was laughter in the clubhouse, and he sensed it was just like any regular season game.

"They wanted to wear shorts for batting practice," Molitor said. "I don't know. The signs so far have been good. We have two and half hours to go. We'll see if it changes."

Twins

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

Ervin Santana, RHP

Yankees

Brett Gardner, LF
Aaron Judge, RF
Gary Sanchez, C
Did Gregorius, SS
Starlin Castro, 2B
Greg Bird, 1B
Aaron Hicks, CF
Jacoby Ellsbury, DH
Tood Frazier, 3B

Luis Severino, RHP