BOSTON — The rain has passed, Fenway Park is mostly dry, and the Twins and Red Sox will start their four-game series tonight. And the Twins hope Mike Pelfrey can go deep into the game, like he did one week ago today.
Their pitching plans depend upon it.
The Twins have decided to try to get by without calling up a starting pitcher from Class AAA this week, a plan that relies on Ricky Nolasco’s swift recovery from his ankle injury and three games worth of long starts by the current starters. Phil Hughes and Trevor May will pitch Wednesday’s doubleheader, and if the bullpen isn’t too taxed, manager Paul Molitor might try to get by with a bullpen game on Thursday or Friday, with J.R. Graham making the spot start.
The bullpen will be supplemented tomorrow by Michael Tonkin, who will be eligible to pitch both games as the designated 26th man, a roster addition available on days when two games are scheduled. If Tommy Milone hadn’t just pitched Saturday, perhaps the Twins would have made him the extra player and let him start one of the games. But since he wouldn’t be on full rest, the Twins chose to go this way rather than call up a different pitcher.
Of course, those plans will change if Pelfrey, Hughes or May have unusually short starts, or if Nolasco isn’t ready. The righthander, removed from Sunday’s game in the second inning, will throw on Thursday, and if the pain in his ankle has disappeared, as the Twins hope, he would likely be slotted in for Saturday’s start against Milwaukee.
Nolasco underwent an MRI before the team left Minnesota, and it found no soft-tissue damage in the ankle. What happened, rather, was that a bone in his right ankle made contact with a small fragment left there from a long-ago injury, impinging the tissue around it, like catching your finger in a pair of pliers. It happened only once, but hurt enough that he couldn’t push off correctly, and he was removed from the game.
It’s not an injury that should repeat, the Twins believe, so it’s a matter of waiting for the soreness to disappear. If he wasn’t able to pitch Saturday, Nolasco would likely go on the disabled list, and another starter recalled from Rochester.
Tonight’s game is a rematch of Pelfrey’s 2-1 victory over Clay Buchholz last Tuesday. The Twins have lost three straight games in Fenway Park, and scored only two runs in that three-game set a year ago. But Boston’s three starters from that sweep last June — Rubby De La Rosa, Jon Lester and John Lackey — have all moved on to National League teams.
Here are tonight’s lineups, with Eddie Rosario getting his first action in front of Fenway’s famed Green Monster: