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

Sano has sore hamstring, won't play in series opener against Houston

    Miguel Sano was in the Twins’ lineup at third base for Friday night’s game with Houston. Then manager Paul Molitor talked with the rookie slugger. Now he’s got the night off.

    Sano revealed that he’s experiencing tightness in his right hamstring, and while he believes he can play anyway, his manager is leery of risking Sano’s health.

    “You don’t want to risk any long-term setbacks,” Molitor said of his decision to scratch Sano and play Eduardo Nunez at third base instead. “Sometimes you have to protect the player.”

    That’s his reasoning with Joe Mauer, too, especially with a tough lefthander — Houston’s Scott Kazmir — on the mound tonight. Mauer, who played every game on the Twins’ 10-game road trip, will sit out tonight as well.

    Sano, who hit five home runs on the Twins’ 10-game road trip and has 12 for the season, might be able to pinch-hit tonight, Molitor said, and after receiving treatment on his hamstring today, it’s possible he could return as the designated hitter tomorrow. “We’ll see how he feels,” Molitor said. “We don’t think it’s serious.”

   It wasn’t an easy decision, Molitor said, but the Twins have too many games remaining to risk losing their valuable rookie. The Twins’ lineup “feels different without him,” Molitor said.

    The Astros’ lineup is different, too; shortstop Carlos Correa, the presumptive AL Rookie of the Year, also has a hamstring injury and will miss his second game tonight.

    There is some good news about injuries, however; Glen Perkins “is moving around pretty good,” Molitor said, his sore back much better, and he could be available to pitch tonight. If so, however, it probably won’t be as the Twins’ closer. Molitor said he probably would not use Perkins to close a game until he demonstrates this his neck and back injuries are behind him.

    Here are the lineups for the first game of a weeklong homestand:

ASTROS

 

Altuve 2B

Lowrie 3B

Gattis DH

Rasmus RF

Gomez CF

Valbuena 1B

Gonzalez SS

Castro C

Marisnick LF

 

Kazmir LHP

 

TWINS

 

Buxton CF

Escobar SS

Dozier 2B

Plouffe 1B

Rosario RF

Hunter DH

Nunez 3B

Suzuki C

Robinson LF

 

Gibson RHP

Neal: A lot happened to the Twins on long road trip

An open letter to Phil Miller from fellow Star Tribune Twins beat writer La Velle E. Neal III:

Dear Phil,

 
Hope you enjoyed your time away from the team. A lot of things have changed since the last time you covered this squad. Mainly, they are wild card contenders again. I'm not sure how they did it because the numbers they put up on the road trip are a little shaky. They pulled off four one-run victories during their journey, so it was a combination of making breaks and getting breaks. which can lead to winning streaks. They had a couple big offensive nights. And the bullpen, even with the closer needing re-calibration - has been nails.
 
The starting rotation situation bears watching. The unit simply just isn't getting it done and it's leading to bullpen abuse. What's that? September callups are on the way? Ya right. The Twins won't call up anyone that manager Paul Molitor will be willing to put into a highly-leveraged situation. He proved that during the road trip. Question: When was the last time Ryan O'Rourke pitched? 
 
Phil, I believe that Jose Berrios should already be here and pitching out of the bullpen. Their big mistake was starting Trevor May on Aug. 14 against Cleveland in what ended up being a bullpen game. That began a chain of events that included Casey Fien, Kevin Jepsen and Glen Perkins pitching three straight games. That, combined with May being out multiple days, led to J.R. Graham facing A-Rod with the bases loaded on Aug. 18.  That cost them one of the Yankee games.  They shouldn't worry about burning an option year with Berrios, he won't need it. I watched him pitch at Fort Myers last year and at the Futures Game this year. He knows what he's doing. He should have started the Aug. 14 game then moved to the bullpen. Now he might not be promoted because of his innings count.
 
I know you have a lot on your plate today, Phil, so I'll wrap things up with my MVP's of the road trip.
 
No. 3: Eduardo Escobar. His hustle won the Twins a game in Baltimore, and his four home runs on the trip showed that Eddie The Stick is back. He's playing most of the time at short, he's relaxed and he's driving the ball.
 
No. 2: Miguel Sano. The big man had his power game working, bashing four home runs, including one in the first game of each series. Fans are asking me if he can win rookie of the year. I'm sure you're getting the same messages.
 
No 1. Kevin Jepsen. This man has been a horse, putting up zeroes all over the coast.  The Twins used him three straight games during that Cleveland series and into the Yankees series. Then he pitched in FIVE straight games during the road trip.  The Twins are killing this guy, and we might have to testify at the trial. Hope you have a good lawyer.
 
Have fun with this squad. See you soon,
 
 
La Velle

Final, 8/28 R H E
Houston 71-58 0 6 0
Minnesota 66-62 3 3 1

Today's Scoreboard

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    Philadelphia

     

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    7

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    - F

    3

    5

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    - F

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    3

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    3

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    4

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    15

    4

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    - F

    1

    4

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    - F

    2

    0

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    - F

    0

    5

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    - F

    0

    3

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    4

    6

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    4

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    4

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    68

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    66

    76

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    1

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