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

Berrios 'won't be overwhelmed' by his Fenway debut, Molitor says

    BOSTON — Few AL starters are as familiar to the Twins as Chris Sale. None of the Red Sox have ever taken even a single at-bat against Jose Berrios. So maybe we’ll find out how much familiarity matters tonight when the first-place Twins open a four-game series in Fenway Park tonight.

    Sale may be the runaway strikeout leader in the AL this year and own the fourth-best ERA thus far. But the Twins have hung six losses on him over the years, four of them in 2015, when they kept smacking him around like a rookie junkballer. Sale had a 7.36 ERA in six starts against Minnesota that season, a stretch that has little to do with tonight’s game, yet can’t help but give the Twins a little confidence, even now.

    “I’m not banking on the past success. I know what Chris is capable of,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “We know it’s tough when you face a guy like Chris. [We have to] try to have good at-bats and don’t get frustrated by a punch-out early in the game. Take each at-bat on its own and try to make the next one count.”

    Twins rookies did the usual on-the-field-early tour of this 105-year-old park this afternoon, a familiar ritual to Molitor. “You remember the first time you come here. For me, it was as a collegiate player. I got to watch Carl Yastrzemski take batting practice as he was recovering from an injury,” Molitor said, one Hall of Fame speaking of another. “It’s a great place to play. It’s unique, the angles are unique, the fans are unique. For the guys coming here for the first time, it’s a special occurrence.”

    That goes for Berrios, too, since he’s never pitched here before. But Molitor doesn’t think the righthander’s composure will be a problem.

    “He’s been through enough, between his experiences up here and the WBC,” the manager said. “It’s going to be exciting for him, but I don’t think it will overwhelm him by any  means.”

    The Red Sox just lost two straight games to the Angels this weekend, after losing two of three in Kansas City, so the home fans are a little restless as this matchup of first-place teams gets underway.

    Here are the lineups for the first of four games against Boston:



Dozier 2B

Escobar DH

Sano 3B

Grossman RF

Vargas 1B

Polanco SS

Gimenez C

Rosario LF

Buxton CF


Berrios RHP




Betts RF

Pedroia 2B

Bogaerts SS

Moreland 1B

Benintendi LF

Young DH

Bradley CF

Leon C

Lin 3B


Sale LHP

Berrios vs. Sale starts off four-game Twins series in Boston

Well, who saw this one coming? While the Twins have been markedly better on the road (23-9) than at home (16-25) there seemed to be a nervous fan base following the series from the Twin Cities - based on social media monitoring and panic from my friends.

But the reverse split bit continued. Who expected Cleveland to hit 1-for-23 with runners in scoring position? Or the Twins to beat the Indians on the day Corey Kluber was on the mound? Or win two games without Miguel Sano in the lineup and one with Chris Gimenez in left field?

The Twins, however, crafted three wins and were a fired up team as they left for Boston after Sunday's game.

(This is a transition blog, as Phil Miller picks up the team for the rest of the road trip and I go home to clean out my garage:)

"It didn't work out at our place, four game in three days," first baseman Joe Mauer said. "So it was kinda good to return the favor a little bit. Every game is important.

"You never know what's going to happen when you come to the ballpark."

The Twins generally are a loose group before games, but I noticed a different atmosphere before Friday's game. They were relaxed, yet focused. And they were like that before every game. When Brian Dozier said after Sunday's game that they had been talking about being embarrassed and wanting to pay Cleveland back, I started thinking about the atmosphere before the first game and realized the connection.

Everyone had a hand in this series. From Jorge Polanco's second-inning home run on Friday to Dozier and Gimenez hitting late homers on Saturday to Eddie Rosario having perhaps his best all-around game as a Twin on Sunday, different players stepped up all weekend.

Now they head to Boston, having won five of their last six games. The Red Sox took two of three from the Twins at Target Field in May, scoring 31 runs.

What To Watch For This Week

Tonight's series opener features Boston ace Chris Sale, signed as a free agent from the White Sox over the winter, against Jose Berrios. Sale is fourth in the American League with a 2.85 ERA and tied for third with nine wins. Berrios is 7-1 with a 2.67 ERA, but hasn't pitched enough innings to qualify among the league ERA leaders.

The Twins must make a roster move on Tuesday to clear space for lefthander Hector Santiago so he can start on Tuesday. Dillon Gee would be my guess, but the Twins might decide to hold on to an innings eater this week.

Trevor Hildenberger could be the choice. He looked good, though, on Friday when he pitched the ninth inning. His sidearm funk is a different look that could be an asset.

Keep an eye on Phil Hughes, who gave up a home run while pitching for the second consecutive day on Sunday at Class AAA Rochester. Hughes could be called up in the next week or so, as he gets comfortable in his relief role. Also look for a possible return of Ryan Pressly, who struck out three over two innings on Saturday and might be ready for another shot.

The Red Sox just dropped two of three at home to the Angels, but they have one of the league's best bullpens and a dangerous offense. Sale is looking for his 11th game of at least 10 strikeouts. That's incredible.

And the Twins finish the road trip with four games against the suddenly surging Royals. Kansas City has crept within 2.5 games of the division lead.

Also check the E-Town boxscores for Brent Rooker, selected with the 35th overall pick of the recent draft. He homered for the second consecutive game on Sunday and is off to a hot start.

Quote Of The Week

Don't know if you noticed, but there was an unholy alliance on Friday when Hildenberger, a Cal-Berkeley guy, pitched to Jason Castro a Stanford guy.

They knew.

"I found it very hard not to tell the hitters what pitch was coming," Castro said.

Bottom 1st R H E
Minnesota 39-34 0 0 0
Boston 41-34 0 2 0

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