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

Postgame: Molitor wanted a ground ball, not a bunt

    Strange to start a series with a day game. Here are a few extra things that happened this afternoon:

    Twins manager Paul Molitor wasn’t directly critical, but it sounded like he wasn’t pleased with Eduardo Escobar’s decision to bunt after Kurt Suzuki’s leadoff double in the third inning. Escobar shoved his bat at the first pitch, a 96-mph fastball, and popped it up behind him, an easy play for catcher Russell Martin.

    It sounds like Molitor was asking Escobar to move the runner up by hitting a ground ball to the right side, but the shortstop chose a different tack.

    “I wanted to advance the runner there. Price had been working our right-handed hitters away, primarily … [so] I thought we would take a shot at trying to hit the ball the other way,” Molitor said. “I haven’t talked to him yet, but he decided the best chance to get him over was to go ahead and try to bunt. With that choice being made, there wasn’t execution, obviously.”

XXX

    Blaine Boyer replaced Ervin Santana in the seventh inning, and immediately walked the first batter he faced, Troy Tulowitzki. That’s not unusual. But it is a problem.

    Boyer has appeared in 48 games now, and in 20 of them, he’s allowed the first batter to reach base, 15 on hits and five via walks. That’s a .417 on-base percentage, making it harder for Molitor to trust him with a narrow lead.

    “We’ve talked about it. [Pitching coach Neil Allen and bullpen coach Eddie Guardado] have talked to him about it. It’s one of those things where the more you know you’re doing something you shouldn’t do, the harder it is sometimes to stop it,” Molitor said. “Leadoff walks bite you more times than not. He’s had that happen back in Kansas City a couple of times, he seemed to be coming out of it, but today it came back again.”

    Sure enough, Tulowitzki scored when Edwin Encarnacion and Justin Smoak hit back-to-back two-out singles.

XXX

    Sold-out Rogers Centre was electric on Monday, and after the game, Molitor noted with a straight face that “I’ve seen that atmosphere before.” He has indeed, having won a World Championship here back in 1993. He only spent three seasons in Toronto, so it wasn’t quite the same as his visit to Milwaukee, where he played 15 seasons. But he left no doubt that he enjoys this place.

    “Three real special years. I had a chance to win a world series here, which is the highlight” of his career, Molitor said. “Love the city, love the fans. They came out four million strong for us, which is an incredible number. I think the fans here still remember that chapter fairly well, because of the back-to-back championships, and it was nice to be a part of that.”

Price makes Jays debut as Twins open big series in Toronto

    TORONTO — It’s not just a Minnesota thing. Nearly four hours before today’s game, and two hours before gates opened at Rogers Centre, hundreds of Jays fans were already standing in line, waiting to claim a Russell Martin bobblehead.

    The ballpark once known as SkyDome is expected to be sold out for this holiday afternoon game, with interest heightened by the wild-card race — Toronto trails the Twins for a playoff spot by one game — and David Price’s Blue Jay debut. If recent history is any guide, they should be happy with what they see; Price is 3-0 with a 1.17 ERA in three starts against the Twins this season. Then again, he’ll be facing Ervin Santana, who is 2-0 with an 0.76 ERA in three road starts for the Twins.

    Speaking of the holiday, it’s a little unclear — even to residents here — what it is, exactly. I asked three people at my hotel what it is, and got three different answers: Civic Day, Family Day and August Celebration. A couple of people on Twitter informed me that here in the city, it’s technically Simcoe Day, named for the founder of the village that became Toronto, and Wikipedia agrees. But I’ve yet to find a single person here tell me that. The concierge explained that a few years ago, there was a movement to create a three-day weekend in August, the only month that didn’t have one, and it was left up to the cities and provinces to decide what the occasion should be.

    Regardless of the reason, the Twins are starting their road trip with a day game, the first time I can recall that happening after April.

    With back-to-back day games, Paul Molitor is giving Joe Mauer the day off. “I’ve done a little bit of thinking about the number of games left to play, and what’s a realistic number for our guys who have been out there the most. In Joe’s case today, [the combination of] back-to-back day games, including travel, and on turf — it would be tough for him to play four games on turf,” the Twins manager said. “I’m not sure how bodies are responding to playing on this new surface, but with Price, that matchup hasn’t been particularly good for Joe, so this seemed like a chance to shake that up a little bit.”

    Mauer is 6-for-34 (.176) against Price, so it makes sense. Molitor sounded wary of the Rogers Centre turf, which is new this season. It’s the kind of turf that is covered in little black rubber balls, which are visible when the ball bounces off it. Brian Dozier said he doesn’t mind the fake turf, except when he dives for a grounder: Those tiny pieces of rubber get under your uniform, he said, and drive him crazy.

    One other notable lineup change: Eduardo Nunez, whose 10 hits are the most by any Twin against Price, will bat second, dropping Aaron Hicks down to seventh.

    The Blue Jays lineup doesn’t include former Twin Chris Colabello, who visited with his former teammates and coaches during batting practice, but another ex-Twin, Ben Revere, will play left field.

    Rookie righthander Tyler Duffey is here, after a bit of a scramble. Shocked at being called up to start on Wednesday when he wasn’t even on the 40-man roster, Duffey realized his passport was back home in Texas. “Only I would get called up while we’re in Toronto,” he said. So his father caught a flight from Houston to Rochester, and together they made the four-hour drive to Toronto.

    Here are the lineups for today’s noon CDT start from Canada:

TWINS

 

Dozier 2B

Nunez 3B

Plouffe 1B

Sano DH

Hunter RF

Rosario LF

Suzuki C

Escobar SS

 

Santana RHP

 

BLUE JAYS

 

Tulowitzki SS

Donaldson 3B

Bautista RF

Encarnacion DH

Smoak 1B

Martin C

Goins 2B

Pillar CF

Revere LF

 

Price LHP

6:07 PM (FSN)
Minnesota 54-51
Toronto 55-52

Today's Scoreboard

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