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Twins Insider

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

Postgame: Sano and Rosario survive collision in left field

    Three short extras from the Twins’ third-shortest game (2:23) of the season — just three days after they set a franchise record for the longest nine-inning game:

    The Twins shifted their infield toward right field when Freddie Freeman batted Tuesday, with third baseman Miguel Sano swung around to where the shortstop normally stands. It almost caused a disaster when Freeman popped the ball high into short left-center field in the sixth inning.

    Sano ran about 50 feet into the outfield to track the popup, and made the catch just as left fielder Eddie Rosario arrived. Rosario slid to avoid a collision, but Sano tripped over him and both fell to the ground. It took a few moments before both players climbed to their feet.

    Manager Paul Molitor admitted he was worried, “a little bit. … The ball kind of goes out into no mans’ land,” he said. “It’s like when Miguel was in the outfield — when there’s a collision factor, usually the other guy’s going to come out on the short end. Thankfully, everybody got up.”

    Molitor didn’t know whether Rosario called for the ball, but said he had to run such a long way, it might not have made a difference.

    “It’s one of those plays where the infielder is going to go until he hears something, and sometimes it’s too late,” he said. “You’ve already committed to making the catch.”

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    Molitor also had high praise for Max Kepler’s diving catch of A.J. Pierzynski’s line drive in the fifth inning, not just the athleticism of it, but the recognition, too.

    “Kepler got a nice jump on that ball,” Molitor said. “[Pierzynski] had a big swing, but it didn’t have a lot of carry,” and Kepler’s quick reaction allowed him to make the catch just above the grass.

    It was a strong defensive game for the Twins all around, actually. Brian Dozier made a couple of nice throws while running away from first base to catch balls hit up the middle. Ervin Santana’s efficient pitching may have had something to do with the defense, Molitor said.

    “It’s been that way for a long time. Defenders like it,” Molitor said. “Your job is to be ready on every pitch, but it helps you get in the flow.”

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    Santana needed only 97 pitches to record his second complete game in his past four starts, the fewest pitches thrown by a Twins pitcher in a nine-inning outing since Carl Pavano shut out the Royals on 95 pitches on Sept. 28, 2011.

    Santana, 1-7 with a 5.10 ERA on June 14, has a 2.02 ERA over his last seven starts, with eight walks and 31 strikeouts.

    “I’m getting better,” he deadpanned.

Twins back home for rematch of 1991 World Series

    The Twins are back at Target Field tonight, and while they will spend a couple of days reliving the past — with the Braves in town, it’s a natural opportunity to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their 1991 World Series championship over Atlanta — a lot of fans, executives, and players are looking ahead, too.

    Specifically, they’re anticipating the trade deadline, which is now less than six days away. Next Monday at 3 p.m. Central time, the Twins’ roster could look quite different, and that’s a reality that Paul Molitor no longer tries to obscure.

    “I’ve learned that, depending on the individual, most of your messages regarding that are somewhat hollow,” Molitor said. ”When you’re in our position, that kind of permeates our whole clubhouse, because we really don’t know how things might unfold. It might be minimal, or there might be multiple moves.”

    The notion of having to uproot your family and your life in midseason isn’t one that many players relish, but it’s unavoidable in this business. So rather than ask players to ignore rumors, which is nearly impossible in today’s social-media world, he tries to tell his players, “make it positive. … You’re putting on the Twins uniform every day — you’ve got to go out there an perform,” he said. “But I’m sure for some of the guys, the guys who are mentioned a little more frequently, it’s got to be on their mind to some degree.”

    The Braves are on Molitor’s mind, because this is the first time all season that the Twins have played a team with a worse record than their own. Atlanta is 33-66 and has lost five straight games; this two-game series, and two more in Turner Field in August, might play a role in determining which team picks first in the MLB draft next June.

    It’s also a chance to look back at that glorious 1991 postseason, when the Twins won Games 6 and 7 in the Metrodome to capture their second world championship. The Braves went on to win a championship in 1995, but neither team has had much luck in the 21st century. The Twins haven’t won a playoff series since 2002, while Atlanta’s last series win came in 2001, despite qualifying for the postseason seven times since.

    Here are the lineups for tonight’s game, the first of a six-game homestand:

BRAVES

 

Peterson LF

Beckham 2B

Freeman 1B

Markakis DH

Garcia 3B

Inciarte CF

Francoeur RF

Pierzynski C

Aybar SS

 

Harrell RHP

 

TWINS

 

Nunez SS

Mauer 1B

Sano 3B

Dozier 2B

Kepler RF

Vargas DH

Rosario LF

Suzuki C

Buxton CF

 

Santana RHP