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Twins Insider

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

Berrios vs. Sale starts off four-game Twins series in Boston

Well, who saw this one coming? While the Twins have been markedly better on the road (23-9) than at home (16-25) there seemed to be a nervous fan base following the series from the Twin Cities - based on social media monitoring and panic from my friends.

But the reverse split bit continued. Who expected Cleveland to hit 1-for-23 with runners in scoring position? Or the Twins to beat the Indians on the day Corey Kluber was on the mound? Or win two games without Miguel Sano in the lineup and one with Chris Gimenez in left field?

The Twins, however, crafted three wins and were a fired up team as they left for Boston after Sunday's game.

(This is a transition blog, as Phil Miller picks up the team for the rest of the road trip and I go home to clean out my garage:)

"It didn't work out at our place, four game in three days," first baseman Joe Mauer said. "So it was kinda good to return the favor a little bit. Every game is important.

"You never know what's going to happen when you come to the ballpark."

The Twins generally are a loose group before games, but I noticed a different atmosphere before Friday's game. They were relaxed, yet focused. And they were like that before every game. When Brian Dozier said after Sunday's game that they had been talking about being embarrassed and wanting to pay Cleveland back, I started thinking about the atmosphere before the first game and realized the connection.

Everyone had a hand in this series. From Jorge Polanco's second-inning home run on Friday to Dozier and Gimenez hitting late homers on Saturday to Eddie Rosario having perhaps his best all-around game as a Twin on Sunday, different players stepped up all weekend.

Now they head to Boston, having won five of their last six games. The Red Sox took two of three from the Twins at Target Field in May, scoring 31 runs.

What To Watch For This Week

Tonight's series opener features Boston ace Chris Sale, signed as a free agent from the White Sox over the winter, against Jose Berrios. Sale is fourth in the American League with a 2.85 ERA and tied for third with nine wins. Berrios is 7-1 with a 2.67 ERA, but hasn't pitched enough innings to qualify among the league ERA leaders.

The Twins must make a roster move on Tuesday to clear space for lefthander Hector Santiago so he can start on Tuesday. Dillon Gee would be my guess, but the Twins might decide to hold on to an innings eater this week.

Trevor Hildenberger could be the choice. He looked good, though, on Friday when he pitched the ninth inning. His sidearm funk is a different look that could be an asset.

Keep an eye on Phil Hughes, who gave up a home run while pitching for the second consecutive day on Sunday at Class AAA Rochester. Hughes could be called up in the next week or so, as he gets comfortable in his relief role. Also look for a possible return of Ryan Pressly, who struck out three over two innings on Saturday and might be ready for another shot.

The Red Sox just dropped two of three at home to the Angels, but they have one of the league's best bullpens and a dangerous offense. Sale is looking for his 11th game of at least 10 strikeouts. That's incredible.

And the Twins finish the road trip with four games against the suddenly surging Royals. Kansas City has crept within 2.5 games of the division lead.

Also check the E-Town boxscores for Brent Rooker, selected with the 35th overall pick of the recent draft. He homered for the second consecutive game on Sunday and is off to a hot start.

Quote Of The Week

Don't know if you noticed, but there was an unholy alliance on Friday when Hildenberger, a Cal-Berkeley guy, pitched to Jason Castro a Stanford guy.

They knew.

"I found it very hard not to tell the hitters what pitch was coming," Castro said.

Sano continues to lead All-Star balloting at third base

Miguel Sano of the Twins continues to lead American League All-Star balloting at third base, but Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez cut into Sano’s lead.

 

 

With starters to be named on Sunday at 7 p.m. (ESPN), the final updates on voting were released Monday.

Sano leads Ramirez by slightly more than 200,000 votes (1,550,240 to 1,341,076) at third in one of the closest position races. Toronto’s Josh Donaldson (1,191,244) and Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas (1,067,150) also have more than one million fan votes at third.

No other Twin is in the top five in voting at their position.

Sano is hitting .282 with 18 home runs and 52 RBI, fourth in the league.

Other AL leaders are catcher Salvador Perez and first baseman Eric Hosmer of Kansas City; second baseman Jose Altuve and shortstop Carlos Correa of Houston; designated hitter Nelson Cruz of Seattle; and outfielders Aaron Judge of the Yankees, Mike Trout of the Angels and George Springer of the Astros.

Pitchers are not chosen by fan voting, but by All-Star Game managers and league officials. Twins starter Ervin Santana (10-4, 2.80 ERA) seems a lock to be chosen as he is second in the league in wins, third in ERA and second in innings pitched. Closer Brandon Kintzler is tied for the league lead with 20 saves and has a shot.

National League leaders are catcher Buster Posey of San Francisco; first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and second baseman Daniel Murphy of the Nationals; third baseman Kris Bryant of the Cubs; shortstop Zack Cozart of Cincinnati; and outfielders Bryce Harper of Washington, Charlie Blackmon of Colorado and Marcell Ozuna of Miami.

(Sano photo by Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune)

6:10 PM (FSN)
Minnesota 39-34
Boston 41-34

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