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Twins Insider

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

Postgame: Nolasco finished his extra-long start with a flourish

    After three extra innings, here are three extra notes from the Twins’ 2-1 win over the White Sox:

    Paul Molitor has regretted it a couple of times this season when he’s allowed Ricky Nolasco to pitch one more inning as his pitch count climbed, but there was no problem doing it on Friday. For one thing, the veteran righthander had thrown only 88 pitches through seven innings, a number he had exceeded 18 times already this season. And for another, Nolasco hadn’t allowed a runner to reach third base since Adam Eaton’s leadoff home run.

    “We talked about going back out there for the eighth inning, and he was good,” Molitor said. “He had a really nice clean innings.” In fact, Nolasco finished with a flourish, getting J.B. Shuck on a first-pitch line out, then striking out Tyler Saladino and Carlos Sanchez to give him six whiffs on the night.

    It was Nolasco’s 29th career start of eight or more innings, but only his fourth with the Twins. And he had not gone that long since Sept. 16, 2014.

    Still, Nolasco wasn’t credited with the victory; that went to reliever  Trevor May, who is now 2-2 on the season. Nolasco still has four wins this season, one each in April, May, June and July.

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    Miguel Sano spoiled the Twins’ best chance at a big inning against Jose Quintana with a baserunning gaffe.

    “It’s one of those areas where we continue to try to teach,” Molitor shrugged, “and you have to be patient.”

    Sano was on second base with one out after doubling off Quintana — his first hit off the left-hander after an 0-for-9 start to his career. But when Kennys Vargas lined a soft single to right field, Sano only moved a few steps toward third base. When it fell in, he suddenly raced for third, passed third-base coach Gene Glynn’s stop sign, and headed home, where he was easily tagged out. Brian Dozier scored ahead of Sano, but it was the Twins’ only run in a four-hit inning. The run loomed large in a game that was still 1-1 in the 12th inning.

    Molitor said the team has emphasized “the whole idea of being focused whoever you’re at are on the field — in the [batter’s] box, playing defense, on the bases.”

    But that’s a lesson Sano forgot.

    “It wasn’t a particularly good read, [because it] sure looked like a hit off the bat,” the manager said. Sano “kind of hung out there for awhile and then put his head down. You get a good read, you probably score easy. But when you don’t, you’ve got to  pick up the coach.”

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    Molitor after the game, noting it was the fifth time in the last nine games that the Twins have allowed the first batter of the game to hit a home run: “We might walk [Adam] Eaton tomorrow.”

For first time since 2013, Morneau plays at Target Field tonight

    It’s not an official promotion, but it’s Justin Morneau Night at Target Field. For the first time since he was traded away almost three years ago, the former AL MVP will play in Target Field again tonight. He’s the designated hitter for the third-place White Sox, batting fifth.

    Morneau said before batting practice that he’s not certain what sort of reception he’ll receive when he comes to the plate tonight. “It’ll be interesting to see what happens,” said Morneau, who has only been active again since July 15, due to offseason elbow surgery. “Hopefully everyone is nice, like they always have been to me in Minnesota.“

    It’s hard to imagine it will be anything but a warm welcome back, considering Morneau’s legacy with the Twins. In addition to his MVP season in 2006, Morneau ranks third in Twins history in home runs with 221, behind only Harmon Killebrew and Kent Hrbek.

    The White Sox are trying to hang on in the playoff race — at 50-52, they enter the day six games out of the final AL postseason berth — all while deciding whether to make a major trade this weekend. Several teams are reportedly trying to pry Chris Sale away from Chicago, so there could be big news while the Sox are here.

    On the field, Ricky Nolasco tries to reverse his luck against Chicago, and so does his team. The Twins are 1-8 against Chicago so far, and Nolasco has given up 12 earned runs in 10 2/3 innings over two starts against the Sox this year. The Twins will face Jose Quintana, who is 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA in three starts against Minnesota this season.

    With Eduardo Nunez traded to the Giants last night, Brian Dozier moves out of the cleanup spot and back atop the batting order tonight, only the second time he’s led off in two months. “My tendency is to go with a guy who I know has done it enough to where it won’t be an overwhelming challenge,” manager Paul Molitor said. “Some other people might get a chance, but right now, the way everyone is playing, it was fairly obvious for me to throw him in there.”

    Here are the lineups for tonight’s game, the first of three at Target Field:

WHITE SOX

 

Eaton RF

Anderson SS

Cabrera LF

Abreu 1B

Morneau DH

Frazier 3B

Schuck CF

Navarro C

Saladino 2B

 

Quintana LHP

 

TWINS

 

Dozier 2B

Grossman DH

Sano 3B

Vargas 1B

Kepler RF

Escobar SS

Rosario LF

Suzuki C

Buxton CF

 

Nolasco RHP

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