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

Escobar at third, Nunez at short as Twins meet Orioles in makeup game

    Eduardo Nunez has received plenty of accolades for his breakout season this year, most particularly as the Twins’ representative to the All-Star Game. He got another one on Thursday when manager Paul Molitor posted his lineup for tonight’s makeup game with the Orioles.

    Nunez is the shortstop.

    That may not seem like news, since Nunez has played the position, his preferred position, 50 times this season. But here’s what is different: Eduardo Escobar is in the lineup, too. Until tonight, and as recently as July 17, when both are in the lineup, Escobar has been the shortstop and Nunez has shifted to third base.

    “This is something I considered over the All-Star break,” Molitor said of his decision to make Escobar his primary utility infielder, and allow Nunez to settle in at just one position for the first time since joining the Twins. “Escobar is kind of the utility guy now, so he’s got to play around the infield. And Nunez deserves” to be able to focus on just one spot for now.

    Escobar will play second base, too, Molitor said. He hasn’t played third base in a year, since July 25, 2015, and his five games at the position last year all came with Danny Santana at short. But Escobar has been taking ground balls all over the infield in the past week, Molitor said.

    It’s a sign of respect for the season that Nunez has had, despite going just 9-for-52 (.137) since the All-Star break. He’s batting .300, leads the AL in stolen bases with 26, and is seventh in the league in singles, with 82. It’s also a night off for Miguel Sano, who has only two hits and eight strikeouts in his last three games.

    Tonight’s game is a makeup of the May 9 rainout, and one last chance to avoid being swept by Baltimore in the season series. The Twins opened 2016 with three straight losses at Camden Yards, and dropped both games at Target Field in May, losing 5-3 and 9-2. 

    Here are the lineups for tonight’s 6:10 p.m. game:

 

ORIOLES

 

Jones CF

Kim LF

Machado 3B

Davis 1B

Trumbo RF

Schoop 2b

Alvarez DH

Hardy SS

Joseph C

 

Jimenez RHP

 

TWINS

 

Nunez SS

Grossman DH

Mauer 1B

Dozier 2B

Kepler RF

Rosario LF

Escobar 3B

Centeno C

Buxton CF

 

Gibson RHP

Reliever Abad most likely to be dealt before MLB trade deadline [Twins postgame]

Here are three thoughts following the Twins 9-7 loss to the worst team in baseball:

ABAD ON THE BLOCK: With the Twins sending out strong signals that they prefer to keep starter Ervin Santana, the Twin most likely to be dealt could be lefthander Fernando Abad.The Dodgers were among the clubs that had scouts at Wednesday's game as they continue to look for relief help. There appears to be enough demand on the trade market that the Twins could swing a deal for Abad for the right offer, which is expected to be prospects.Abad is 1-3 with a 2.61 ERA in 36 games. He's bounced back after a poor 2015 season with Oakland thanks to better fastball command that has made his other pitches effective. He throws a change up at two speeds, with the slower one feathering in at 67 miles an hour. ``I know how this works,'' Abad said. ``The team is not having a good season and if someone needs someone, somebody is going to be gone. I don't want to leave. But if it happens I have to go.'' I was told there's a pretty good market for teams willing to trade lefty relievers, so I would not be surprised to see Abad dealt.

WHAT ABOUT SUZUKI?: A fan asked if there were teams scouting Kurt Suzuki, and I have not heard of any. But the Twins are in a little bit of a box with Suzuki, who could be a free agent next season. John Ryan Murphy has not been the catcher they thought they had traded for. He's batting .204 at Class AAA Rochester. If the Twins trade Suzuki, they have no one ready to replace him, and the free agent market for catchers will be Matt Wieters, who likely will stay with Baltimore. The Twins might have to keep Suzuki

DUFFEY'S ROUGH DAY: Tyler Duffey was mechanically unsound on Wednesday and dug a hole that he and his teammates could not get out of. He has a 10.15 ERA over his last three starts and it looks like he's on the hot seat. Twins manager Paul Molitor said that Duffey is the scheduled to start on Monday but, ``that's really all I can say about that right now.'' That said a lot. If you use a pen to write Duffey's name down, make sure its erasable ink. Monday should be a very interesting day, with the trade deadline and the Duffey situation.

BONUS: Brandon Kinzler has to be drawing interest from clubs as well, the way he's thrown the ball this year and how he's seamlessly stepped into the closer's role. Kintzler was reccommended to Terry Ryan by special assistant Wayne Krivsky, and he turned out to he a nice pickup.