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Twins Insider

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

Twins start series in Cleveland sans Sano in lineup


Miguel Sano has been slowed by a sinus infection over the last few days, and manager Paul Molitor said that last night's flight in from the Twin Cities, "set him back."

So Sano is not in the starting lineup tonight, although he could be available to pinch hit. The timing isn't the best, with a series against the mighty Indians starting tonight.

It leads to an interesting lineup, with on base maven Kennys Vargas batting in the No. 3 spot. His on base percentage is .277, but the Twins hope he can live Sano's life for one night.

"Maybe I'll play tomorrow," said a sick-looking Sano with his hoodie pulled over his head.

New pitchers are here

Dillon Gee and Trevor Hildenberger are here to save the day. Gee was designated for assignment by Texas last week and elected free agency on Sunday. The Twins signed him on Wednesday. He spent two days in Rochester and never wore a jersey. He charted pitches on Thursday, which he did from the clubhouse.

But the Twins are in a jam. It's bullpen has been tormented by short outings by starters and poor relieving. So they called up Gee, who has pitched in 151 major league games, up to fill a long relief role. It's a role the Twins really haven't had filled this year. Rule 5 pick Justin Haley could be the guy but is on the disabled list. Anthony Swarzak was the last effective innings eater.

So that's what Gee will do for now.

Gee will wear No. 35, making him the first person to wear Ron Gardenhire's old number. According to the Twins media, the last player (not coach or manager) to wear that number was John Candeleria in 1990.

Hildenberger took a steady path to majors, going from a college pitcher who threw a straight 85 mph fastball to a sidearmer who throws 87-93 with movement. He throws a slider and change up too. His career numbers are impressive:  In 124 minor league games, he has a 1.57 ERA and 52 saves. In 171.2 innings, he's given up FOUR home runs (two to the same guy, he thinks), walked 26 and struck out 200.

Will it work in the majors? That's the big question. Someone asked me on twitter last night if he threw hard. I responded that many sidearmers don't throw hard (is Pat Neshek a sidearmer? He's from another world) and this is about the funk, the whole funk and nothing but the funk. I'm sticking to that. Whatever he does has played at every level he's pitched at so far.

Hildenberger, 26, also will try to throw hitters off once in awhile by reverting to an over-the-top delivery.

Someone had to go to make room on the 40-man for these guys. The Twins DFA'd Alex Wimmers and Mason Melotakis (!).

Melotakis recently was promoted to Rochester and has two scoreless outings for the Red Wings when he was (likely) blindsided by the news. Melotakis seemed to be in the mix to be called up eventually.

Now he out there to be claimed. A lefty who can throw in the low 90's (his velo, some say, has been down), will attract attention.

The Twins are about to use their 26th and 27th pitchers of the season. To get to that point, they've been forced to circulate guys through the bottom part of the 40-man roster. And Melotakis was next in line.

"They [decisions] aren't easy, so you don't take them lightly," Molitor said.

Hector Santiago will start on Saturday in Boston, so someone will have to come off the roster then to make room for him.

The north edge of a weather system has tickled the area throughout the afternoon. It's not raining right now. The tarp is sitting in left field, though. The hope is that the rain stays south so the game can be played.


Twins

Brian Dozier, 2B
Joe Mauer, 1B
Kennys Vargas, DH
Max Kepler, RF
Eduardo Escobar, 3B
Eddie Rosario, LF
Jorge Polanco, SS
Jason Castro, C
Byron Buxton, CF

Adalberto Mejia, LHP

Indians

Jason Kipnis, 2B
Erik Gonzalez, 3B
Francisco Lindor, SS
Edwin Encarnacion, DH
Carlos Santana, 1B
Austin Jackson, CF
Lonnie Chisenhall, RF
Roberto Perez, C
Daniel Robertson, LF

Trevor Bauer, RHP

Postgame: Turley learned the hard way about falling behind hitters

    He didn’t say it with Kyle Gibson’s Midwestern accent, but Nik Turley sure sounded a lot like Gibson after Thursday’s loss to the White Sox. Both pitchers are tall, both possess mid-90s fastballs, and both get in trouble when they can’t throw first-pitch strikes.

    “I feel like I was trying to be too fine. I was trying to hit the corner instead of just being aggressive,” said Turley, virtually word-for-word as Gibson when he has a game where he’s constantly pitching from behind. “I know the stuff’s there. The stuff’s always been there. I’m just going to work as hard as I can to get it back.”

    He’ll have to do it in Rochester, N.Y., of course, having been optioned back to Class AAA after his third straight short-start loss in three tries. This time, the rookie lefthander lasted only eight batters before Paul Molitor had seen enough, and he fell behind six of them. No shock here: Five of those hitters, able to sit on a fastball in the zone, collected hits, two of them homers.

    “I feel like today it was a lot to do with my mentality. There’s no excuse. It’s just I went out there and I was a little cautious instead of pitching my game,” Turley said. “So, I started getting behind guys. I know if I get ahead and stay aggressive in the zone than I’ll be all right.”

    It’s a lot easier to say than to do, of course, and nobody knows it better than Gibson, who has been battling that fall-behind plague for most of his career. But Turley had other problems, too. He rarely threw his curveball — not at all to the first five batters, actually — which was one of the points the Twins had emphasized to him before the game.

    And his changeup wasn’t fooling anyone. “It was basically like a [batting practice] fastball. It was a 4- or 5-mph difference from my fastball instead of what you want. You want it to be around 10,” Turley said. “My curveball’s my best pitch, so I should have gone to it more. I regret not going to it.”

    He didn’t sound regretful about the past two weeks, though, despite the disastrous (16.39 ERA) results. “I’m grateful for the opportunity,” said Turley, who spent nine seasons in the minors before getting his shot. “I hope to be back here soon.”