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

Rogers' rare slip surprises Molitor

    CHICAGO — Tim Anderson was 0-for-11 in the series when he grounded a ball into the hole to deliver a walk-off victory on Wednesday. And he was 9-for-50 — that’s a .180 average — against the Twins this season. And the grounder, had it been five feet in either direction, probably becomes an inning-ending double play. So that makes the 4-3 loss to the White Sox even more annoying to the Twins.

    But as unlikely as the ninth-inning rally was, Twins manager Paul Molitor seemed a little shocked at Chicago’s eighth-inning rally off Taylor Rogers, too. The manager had said before the game that he was grateful that he had been able to give Rogers four days off, “given his workload this year. I haven’t needed him, so for him to get a little rest, it’s great. He’s doing well.”

    Rogers, who had not given up a run since Aug. 5 and had given up two extra-base hits in an appearance only once this year, entered the game in the eighth inning and immediately struck out Alan Hanson. Then he got ahead of Leury Garcia by getting him to foul off three straight fastballs. But the fourth pitch, another fastball, was high and in the middle of the strike zone, and Garcia lined it to the wall in left-center.

    “I’m not sure if he was trying to go in there, but 0-and-2 doubles, they hurt,” Molitor said.

    It was the first extra-base hit Rogers had given up since July 29, more than seven innings ago, and it was followed, surprisingly, by another. Facing rookie Yoan Moncada, Rogers again got ahead 0-2, missed while trying to get him to chase twice, and then looped a curveball that wound up in the middle of the strike zone. Moncada grounded it hard into the left field corner for run-scoring, game-tying double.

    “A breaking ball,,” Molitor said. “Not sure where it ended up, but he obviously got enough to get it down the line.”

XXX

    Jorge Polanco’s home run streak doesn’t really surprise Molitor. “The quality of at-bats has been there for awhile,” the manager said. “It’s just that every one he’s hit has been a home run lately.”

    Molitor was especially impressed with Polanco’s 418-foot blast on Wednesday, because of his patience in waiting for his pitch. Polanco had struck out on a slow curve from Chicago starter James Shields in the first inning, then saw two more curves to open his fourth-inning at-bat.

    “Shields probably thought he had him set up for a fastball after a steady diet of slow stuff,” Molitor said. “And Jorge was still ready.” The pitch came in high at 89 mph, about as fast as the veteran can throw these days, and Polanco crushed it.

Kepler returns to lineup, hopes to join in Twins' home run spree

    CHICAGO — Max Kepler still wasn’t feeling well when he arrived at Guaranteed Rate Field on Tuesday, but the Twins gave him a saline IV in the trainers’ room. “That made me feel a lot better,” the Twins’ right fielder said. And when he woke up Wednesday morning, he was feeling good and ready to play again.

    “I [got] a heads-up that Max was on the right track,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “He’s excited to be back in there.”

    The Twins are, too, because their lineup is already missing Miguel Sano and Robbie Grossman with injuries. Kepler, who sat out two games with symptoms of either the flu or food poisoning — he’s not sure which — is batting sixth tonight against White Sox righthander James Shields.

    Kepler began to feel lightheaded during Monday’s first game, amid the heat and humidity of Chicago. “I was having trouble with my vision, actually. I took some really awkward swings, which at the time, I was like, ‘Just one of those days,’ “ Kepler said. “When the game ended, I sat down, and I felt really bad. Weak, lightheaded.” And he just got worse during the night.

    He’s anxious to get back, though, to join in a remarkable run of power-hitting by the Twins. Kepler has never hit a home run here, but his Twins teammates have piled up 15 in eight games in Chicago, eight just in the past two days alone.

    “We’re keeping things simple. Just put an easy swing on it. The ball’s coming in at 90-something mph — if you square it up with the barrel, it’ll go a long way,” Kepler said. “It seems like everyone is doing just as much as they have to swing-wise, keeping it simple, not trying to hit it over the fence. It’s awesome to see.”

    Here are the lineups for tonight’s fourth game of the series:

TWINS

 

Dozier 2B

Mauer 1B

Polanco SS

Rosario LF

Buxton CF

Kepler RF

Vargas DH

Castro C

Escobar 3B

 

Santana RHP

 

WHITE SOX

 

L. Garcia CF

Moncada 2B

Abreu 1B

Delmonico DH

A. Garcia RF

Smith C

Sanchez 3B

Anderson SS

Hanson LF

 

Shields RHP

Final, 8/23 R H E
Minnesota 65-61 3 3 1
Chicago White Sox 49-76 4 7 1

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