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Twins Insider

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

Postgame: Hicks hit his blast to wrong part of the field

    A handful of leftovers from yet another run-starved game in Boston:

    — Aaron Hicks has played five games in Fenway Park and has never faced a left-handed pitcher. So he knows how big right field is at Fenway Park, the deepest part of the ballpark. It’s also part of the reason he’s now 3-for-15 in Boston. “It’s their style of pitching. They pitch you in, and once you pull the ball, it’s going to the deepest part,” Hicks said. That’s what Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz did to him Tuesday, he said. “He was throwing a lot of off-speed pitches, trying to get me out front,” Hicks said. “Then late in the count, bust me inside with fastballs.” Still, Hicks nearly made the strategy fail, clobbering a fastball leading off the eighth that would have landed in the Twins’ bullpen if Rusney Castillo hadn’t reached over the wall to bring it back.

    — Mike Pelfrey is enjoying one of the best stretches of his career, and certainly his best as a Twin. Pelfrey allowed just one run over seven innings on Tuesday, the third straight start he’s given up just one. It’s also his sixth quality start of the season, tying Kyle Gibson for the most on the Twins. Yet he fell to 4-2 after taking the 1-0 loss. He complimented the Twins’ defense afterward, citing a handful of great plays. Danny Santana helped snuff a second-inning threat by making a perfect throw to the plate while on the run, getting Pablo Sandoval trying to score. Brian Dozier also made a diving stop for an out, and a sliding stop to turn a grounder into a double play. And Eddie Rosario made a running catch in left field. “I only struck out one guy in seven innings, so these boys had to get 20 outs behind me,” Pelfrey said. “They played great defense. It’s always needed.”

    — Also of note, especially to writers on deadline: The game lasted just 2:21, easily the fastest of Pelfrey’s Twins career. In fact, it was 12 minutes quicker than his previous best as a Twin, and ranked among the five fastest games in his 197-game career.

    — Lost in the lack of offense was Torii Hunter extending his hitting streak to 10 games, the 20th streak of his career that long. Hunter also had a 14-game hitting streak for Detroit last season. His career-longest was a 23-game streak back in 2007, his final season of his first stint with the Twins. Hunter also played his 1,270th career game with Minnesota, moving him past Justin Morneau for eighth=most in franchise history.

Twins back in action, but rotation remains in flux

    BOSTON — The rain has passed, Fenway Park is mostly dry, and the Twins and Red Sox will start their four-game series tonight. And the Twins hope Mike Pelfrey can go deep into the game, like he did one week ago today.

    Their pitching plans depend upon it.

    The Twins have decided to try to get by without calling up a starting pitcher from Class AAA this week, a plan that relies on Ricky Nolasco’s swift recovery from his ankle injury and three games worth of long starts by the current starters. Phil Hughes and Trevor May will pitch Wednesday’s doubleheader, and if the bullpen isn’t too taxed, manager Paul Molitor might try to get by with a bullpen game on Thursday or Friday, with J.R. Graham making the spot start.

    The bullpen will be supplemented tomorrow by Michael Tonkin, who will be eligible to pitch both games as the designated 26th man, a roster addition available on days when two games are scheduled. If Tommy Milone hadn’t just pitched Saturday, perhaps the Twins would have made him the extra player and let him start one of the games. But since he wouldn’t be on full rest, the Twins chose to go this way rather than call up a different pitcher.

    Of course, those plans will change if Pelfrey, Hughes or May have unusually short starts, or if Nolasco isn’t ready. The righthander, removed from Sunday’s game in the second inning, will throw on Thursday, and if the pain in his ankle has disappeared, as the Twins hope, he would likely be slotted in for Saturday’s start against Milwaukee.

    Nolasco underwent an MRI before the team left Minnesota, and it found no soft-tissue damage in the ankle. What happened, rather, was that a bone in his right ankle made contact with a small fragment left there from a long-ago injury, impinging the tissue around it, like catching your finger in a pair of pliers. It happened only once, but hurt enough that he couldn’t push off correctly, and he was removed from the game.

    It’s not an injury that should repeat, the Twins believe, so it’s a matter of waiting for the soreness to disappear. If he wasn’t able to pitch Saturday, Nolasco would likely go on the disabled list, and another starter recalled from Rochester.

    Tonight’s game is a rematch of Pelfrey’s 2-1 victory over Clay Buchholz last Tuesday. The Twins have lost three straight games in Fenway Park, and scored only two runs in that three-game set a year ago. But Boston’s three starters from that sweep last June — Rubby De La Rosa, Jon Lester and John Lackey — have all moved on to National League teams.

    Here are tonight’s lineups, with Eddie Rosario getting his first action in front of Fenway’s famed Green Monster:



Dozier 2B

Hunter RF

Mauer C

Plouffe 3B

Suzuki C

Rosario LF

Escobar DH

Hicks CF

Santana SS


Pelfrey RHP




Pedroia 2B

Betts CF

Ortiz DH

Ramirez LF

Sandoval 3B

Napoli 1B

Bogaerts SS

Leon C

Castillo RF


Buchholz RHP

Final, 6/2 R H E
Minnesota 30-20 0 3 0
Boston 23-29 1 7 0

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