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

Santana makes fourth attempt at first Target Field win

    Paul Molitor has been watching replays of Ervin Santana’s starts lately. Pinpointing the problem is easy, he said. Solving it, that’s the tricky part.

    “Missing his spots with the fastball is a big part of where it starts,” the Twins’ manager said. Pitching coach Neil Allen has spotted some minor mechanical adjustments, Molitor said, and has been trying to help the veteran righthander incorporate them as he prepares for today’s game against the Astros.

    “He’s been working hard between his starts,” Molitor said. “He’s had enough experience to where you hope something clicks for him.”

    Santana has a 9.12 ERA in his five August starts, and doesn’t have a win since July 23. And he’s been even worse in Target Field: a 9.77 ERA in his three home starts, with opponents batting .343 against him.

    The 32-year-old Santana has a carefree air about him, smiling through all the losses. But Molitor said fans shouldn’t take that as a sign he doesn’t care about how he’s pitching. “I know he’s got a little bit different demeanor, he’s not a real external guy in terms of what you see out there,” Molitor said. “But I know that’s not indicative of the passion and the competitiveness that he has. I know he wants to help us out here, and hopefully today is the beginning of that.”

    The Twins can win their third straight series with a victory, important with another 10-day road trip looming next weekend.

    Trevor Plouffe is getting a breather today, after playing every game this month. Eduardo Nunez, who homered on Friday, will start in his place.

    “People aren’t always happy when I make those decisions. He’s been at it consistently for us. He’s had a good year,” Molitor said. “But it seems like he’s been battling a little bit. [This will] give him a chance to back off, and then get back in there” on Tuesday.

    Kurt Suzuki and Torii Hunter also get the standard day-game-after-a-night-game break, with Chris Herrmann and Shane Robinson taking their place. On the Houston side, shortstop Carlos Correa remains out with a hamstring injury, meaning Twins fans won’t have a chance to see the likely AL Rookie of the Year until next season.

    Here are the lineups for today’s series finale with Houston:

ASTROS

 

Altuve 2B

Gonzalez SS

Gattis DH

Rasmus RF

Gomez CF

Valbuena 3B

Carter 1B

Conger C

Marisnick LF

 

McCullers RHP

 

TWINS

 

Dozier 2B

Escobar SS

Mauer 1B

Sano DH

Rosario RF

Nunez 3B

Robinson LF

Herrmann C

Buxton CF

 

Santana RHP

Postgame: Buxton's defense kept deficit from getting worse

    A handful of extras from a long and not-exactly-thrilling night of baseball:

    — Mike Pelfrey’s rough night was the latest in a string of them for the Twins — and the latest in an up-and-down season for him. Saturday was the fifth time this season he didn’t last four innings, which is a lot to ask the offense to overcome, not to mention the bullpen. It’s not great timing for Pelfrey, either.

    After reaching June 1 with a 2.77 ERA, there was some talk about whether the Twins had waited out Pelfrey’s comeback from Tommy John surgery and had found a new cornerstone for the rotation. Now he’s a month away from becoming a free agent, and it’s going to be interesting to see how much interest Pelfrey draws.

    “I don’t worry about that stuff,” said Pelfrey, who signed a two-year, $11 million contract in December 2013. “I’m healthy. I told you in spring training, if I’m healthy, I’ll be OK.”

    — As disappointing as Pelfrey’s night was, it could have been worse. Twice, Astro hitters blooped what looked like certain hits into shallow right-center, and both times Byron Buxton came streaking over to make running catches that few other outfielders could have made.

    “He kept us in there early. Not a lot of guys can get to those balls,” Molitor said of the rookie outfielder, who went 0-for-3 at the plate. “He’s playing a good center field. He’s having a battle now offensively, but at least he’s not carrying it over on the defensive side.”

    — One ball did drop in, a popup by Hank Conger in the sixth inning that fell about 10 feet behind a back-pedaling Brian Dozier. He looked around like he expected an outfielder to make the catch, but Molitor said the problem wasn’t placement, it was background. Nobody could see it in the twilight sky.

    “It’s not a matter of whose is it, as who can see it,” Molitor said. “A couple minutes in either direction, it’s probably a routine play. It was a little too far for Dozier, and I don’t think Torii [Hunter] got a good look at it. Just lost in the twilight.”

Bottom 7th R H E
Houston 72-58 0 6 0
Minnesota 66-63 4 6 0

Today's Scoreboard

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  • Detroit

    Toronto

     

    - F

    2

    9

  • LA Angels

    Cleveland

     

    - F

    2

    9

  • Boston

    NY Mets

     

    - F

    4

    5

  • Kansas City

    Tampa Bay

     

    - F

    2

    3

  • NY Yankees

    Atlanta

     

    - F

    20

    6

  • San Diego

    Philadelphia

     

    - F

    9

    4

  • Colorado

    Pittsburgh

     

    - F

    5

    0

  • Miami

    Washington

     

    - F

    4

    7

  • Seattle

    Chicago White Sox

     

    - Bot 9th

    5

    4

  • Cincinnati

    Milwaukee

     

    - F

    1

    4

  • Houston

    Minnesota

     

    - F

    5

    7

  • Baltimore

    Texas

     

    - Bot 8th

    0

    4

  • St. Louis

    San Francisco

     

    - Bot 5th

    5

    2

  • Oakland

    Arizona

     

    - Top 5th

    3

    3

  • Chicago Cubs

    LA Dodgers

    7:05 PM

  • Indiana

    Tulsa

     

    - 2nd, 2:57

    31

    37

  • San Antonio

    Los Angeles

    6:00 PM

  • Connecticut

    Chicago

    6:00 PM

  • Phoenix

    Minnesota

    6:00 PM

  • Washington

    Seattle

    8:00 PM

  • Portland

    Seattle

     

    - 1st, 0:00

    0

    1

  • D.C.

    New York

    6:00 PM

    FOX SPORTS 1

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