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Twins Insider

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

Postgame: Molitor considered, but resisted, using Kintzler two innings early

    TORONTO — Paul Molitor talked on Saturday about his determination to find ways to end the losing streak. One of them, he said, might involve the bullpen.

    “You think about doing things differently when you’re in these kind of stretches. I had a thought during the game [Friday] night, when we got to [within] 6-5 even though we were in the sixth inning, to go to someone a little bit more experienced to try to keep that game close longer,”  Molitor said. “You become vulnerable near the end if you have to find other people to fill the end of the game, [but] you don’t just want to go, ‘OK, it’s the sixth inning, it’s too early.’ When you’re trying to find a way to win a game, sometimes you have to think outside the box a little bit.”

    On Sunday, I thought he would have his chance. Kyle Gibson allowed a pair of runs in the sixth inning, but rookie Pat Light rescued him by getting Josh Thole to ground into an inning-ending double play. That meant the Twins still held a one-run lead, 5-4, but the top of the Blue Jays’ order was due up on the seventh, that sluggers’ row of Bautista-Donaldson-Encarnacion-Martin-Tulowitzki. 

    The heavily worked Ryan Pressly had thrown 34 pitches on Saturday, so he was out. But closer Brandon Kintzler had pitched only once in the past week, a 10-pitch mop-up outing on Thursday. With Molitor’s words in my ears, I confidently predicted in the press box that Kintzler would be summoned to pitch the seventh.

    I guessed wrong.

    “I didn’t think it was an option in the seventh inning,” Molitor said. “Obviously you can try to have him put up a zero, maybe two, and try to figure out a way to hang on at the end. The seventh inning was going to be key.”

    Molitor had a point about having few options for the ninth inning, even if Kintzler kept the Blue Jays in check. So he chose to stick with Light, who had looked good finishing the sixth inning, but who has little experience against a lineup as potent as Toronto’s is now. Light was eager to get his shot, but it didn’t go well. Jose Bautista hit a hard grounder that got through the infield for a single, and Josh Donaldson followed up by whacking a 1-and-0 fastball over the center field wall, putting the Jays ahead for good.

    In the end, the Jays added three more runs against three pitchers who had fewer than 16 inings of major league experience between them, and Kintzler didn’t get into the game. “I thought about trying to get four outs [with him], maybe 5 outs,” Molitor said, “but I didn’t think that was the time, even though unconventional might work.”

Twins hope 'learning experience' helps end losing streak

    TORONTO — In the wake of yesterday’s ugly loss to the Blue Jays, when the Twins blew a 5-0 lead and ultimately gave up the go-ahead run on an unfortunate dive attempt by Max Kepler, Paul Molitor came to the park today with an optimistic goal: Use it. Turn that loss into a positive.

    “Some of the things that happened yesterday are tremendous learning experiences for young people,” Molitor said almost cheerfully, his demeanor giving no hint of the team’s nine-game losing streak. The loss can be valuable, he said, “both individually, [for] things you might have done differently, or collectively, in how you stem some of that momentum when you sense it slipping away.”

    Even he had to admit, however, that momentum in baseball depends mostly on the identity of the next day’s pitcher. But Molitor is upbeat there, too. Kyle Gibson, he said, has learned a lot from his disappointing season, which has yo-yo’d between strong games and terrible ones. Gibson has a 6.59 ERA in August, and today takes on one of the sport’s hottest hitting teams.

    “Gibby is in a good place. There have been some good conversations with him this week about the continuing message of what he needs to do to give himself a better chance in a given start,” Molitor said. “It’s what you look for as a manager and coaches — you try to find growth and a curve that’s heading in the right direction.”

    Gibson’s will head in that direction once he convinces himself of one simple notion, the manager said. “When he gets in trouble, he loses that attack mentality. He tries to be too perfect, doesn’t trust that a fastball down in the zone, with movement, is going to be a tough ball to square up. We really look for him to take advantage of the fastball movement that he has.”

    Here are today’s lineups for the finale in Toronto, as the Twins try to avoid the eighth double-digit losing streak in franchise history:

TWINS

 

Dozier 2B

Mauer 1B

Kepler RF

Plouffe 3B

Sano DH

Polanco SS

Grossman LF

Suzuki C

Santana CF

 

Gibson RHP

 

BLUE JAYS

 

Bautista RF

Donaldson 3B

Encarnacion 1B

Martin C

Tulowitzki SS

Pillar CF

Upton LF

Travis 2B

Thole C

 

Dickey RHP (the former Twins knuckleballer)