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: