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Twins Insider

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

No surprise: Santana on the mound for his final Twins start this season

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Paul Molitor sees a lot of himself in Ervin Santana. No, Molitor couldn’t pitch, but he shares a similar approach to the game, and demeanor on and off the field with his best starting pitcher.

    “There are some things we do pretty well as far as trying to maintain a certain evenness in the way we go about things, regardless of what’s transpiring on the field,” Molitor said. “He’s very steady.”

    Santana has pitched very well since mid-June, posting a 2.35 ERA over his past 17 starts. But the Twins are 7-10 on those games, and Santana has collected only one win since Aug. 16. Yet his serene demeanor in the Twins’ clubhouse, always smiling even during the worst of his team’s losing streak, hasn’t changed.

     “You just hope people are watching and learning. We don’t have a lot of veterans, but we are fortunate to have a few who have had a fairly high level of success and have accumulated resumes that speak for themselves. And he’s one guy you hope some guys are watching,” Molitor said. “I know [rookie Jose] Barrios has really done a pretty good job of trying to observe some things from Ervin, and that’s probably where he can be the most helpful in trying to pass it on to one of our young guys.”

    That’s why Molitor wasn’t surprised when Santana insisted on making his final start of the 2016 season tonight, even after being given the option of shutting down a week early. Molitor said he might try to limit the pitch count of Santana, whose 176 innings lead the team, but then again, if the game is close, maybe he won’t.

    Santana will face Jason Vargas, the Royals lefthander who is making only his third start of the season after returning from Tommy John surgery.

    Here are the lineups for tonight’s game, in which the Twins try to avoid tying the franchise record of 102 losses:

TWINS

 

Dozier 2B

Polanco SS

Grossman LF

Sano DH

K. Vargas 1B

Kepler RF

E. Escobar 3B

Murphy C

Buxton CF

 

Santana RHP

 

ROYALS

 

Dyson CF

Merrifield 2B

Hosmer 1B

Morales DH

Perez C

Gordon LF

Orlando RF

A. Escobar SS

Cuthbert 3B

 

J. Vargas LHP

Postgame: Dozier now leads the majors in stolen-base percentage

    Brian Dozier didn’t hit a home run, but by stealing two bases, he moved into a tie for the major-league lead in steals percentage. Dozier is 18 for 20 this season, a 90.0 percent success rate that ties him with Arizona utility man Chris Owings (also 18 of 20), among players with 15 steal attempts.

    Dozier stole second base twice on Tuesday — he’s been successful on 10 straight steal attempts — and that’s a feat all the more impressive given that Gold Glove catcher Salvador Perez was behind the plate for the Royals. Coming into the game, Perez had thrown out exactly half of the 72 base-runners who ran on him; his 36 putouts are the most in the American League.

    Dozier, though, has something that few players can match: 42 home runs. Should he avoid being thrown out stealing over the season’s final five days, Dozier  would join Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey and Albert Belle as the only major leaguers since 1950 to hit 40 home runs and succeed on 90 percent of his steal attempts in the same season (minimum 10 steals). Not bad company.

XXX

    Raul Mondesi’s steal of second base in the 11th inning may have been the biggest play of the game, and it was a little annoying to Twins manager Paul Molitor. Mondesi faked catcher Kurt Suzuki with a delayed steal, and by the time Suzuki realized he was going, it was far too late to throw him out.

    “They’ve victimized us a lot this year with the delayed steal. The pitch was borderline, so Kurt was trying to hold it a fraction of a second,” Molitor said. “We talked about it [before the game], but they execute the delay. Early in the count, a bunt situation, your catcher’s just trying to get a strike.”

XXX

    Despite facing 18 hitters on Tuesday, Jose Berrios didn’t strike out any of them, and that’s a real rarity. In fact, it was only the third time in 112 career games, major or minor league, that he hadn’t whiffed anybody, and the first time since he’s been a Twin.

    Berrios said he didn’t mind the oddity, that outs are more important than strikeouts, but it still had to feel strange to him. It snapped a string of 61 consecutive starts, dating back to July 29, 2014 when he was with the Class AA New Britain Rock Cats, with at least one strikeout.

6:15 PM (FSN)
Minnesota 56-101
Kansas City 80-77