Since the Twins and Athletics waited until nearly 10 p.m. to start Tuesday’s rain-delayed game, it meant a quick turnaround for Wednesday’s 12:10 p.m. start. But the Twins met the challenge head on, technically winning two games on Wednesday, because Tuesday’s game ended around 1 a.m.
The two victories in roughly 14 hours set them up to head into the All-Star break with some momentum.
Twins manager Paul Molitor felt both clubs were sluggish at the plate early Wednesday, but righthander Ervin Santana strung together scoreless innings until the Twins offense got going late.
“You’re challenged as a professional to be out there and find a way to give it your best effort,” Molitor said, “even when your body is telling you it’s being pushed a little bit.”
The Twins finished the homestand with a 4-2 record — easily their best of the season — and head to Texas for four games with the Rangers before the All-Star break.
They’re trending in the right direction in two key areas. Their starting rotation posted a 2.70 ERA and the offense averaged 6.7 runs during the homestand.
Molitor is most pleased about his starters’ improvement.
“It’s a trend we have been hoping to see for quite a while,” Molitor said. “It leads to more opportunities to win, protects your bullpen and I think the defense responds better. Just a lot of positives about stringing some starts together.”
Now the Twins will meet the Rangers in Texas after beating them two out of three games at Target Field last weekend.
Big double play
Stephen Vogt led off the eighth with a single, and Athletics designated hitter Billy Butler stepped to the plate.
Butler hit a tricky grounder to first base, but Joe Mauer made a nice play to his right to start a 3-6-1 double play with Danny Santana at short and Ervin Santana covering first. Ervin Santana then struck out Yonder Alonzo to end the inning and head into the ninth having thrown only 93 pitches.
“That’s a tough play because you’re coming off the bag and the ball is like a changeup because it got in on [Butler’s] fists a little bit,” Molitor said. “But [Mauer] slowed the play down and gave Danny a good feed and Danny was able to finish it.”
That kept the score 3-0 before the Twins added a run in the eighth. That was a relief to Molitor, who didn’t want to start warming up relievers in the ninth with Santana working on a shutout.
Hard for fans
Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said the club knows fans were put in a tough spot Tuesday night when the start of the game against the Athletics was delayed nearly three hours by rain.
Neither team wanted to play two games Wednesday because both were traveling after the game. The biggest concern Tuesday was if rain would return once play began, but most of the game was played under clear skies until the final out occurred around 1 a.m.
“God bless the fans who stayed here,” Ryan said. “Of course, we extended an invitation for a [free] ticket down the road.”
• Infielder Eduardo Escobar, who strained his left hamstring Saturday, ran on the field before the game and was available off the bench. The Twins didn’t place Escobar on the disabled list because they believe he will return in fewer than 15 days. Escobar could return to the starting lineup during the Rangers series.
• The Twins signed their fifth-round pick from last month’s draft, righthander Jordan Balazovic from Mississauga, Ont. They also signed 15th-round pick Tyler Wells, a righthander from Cal State San Bernardino. The Twins have signed all their picks from the first 15 rounds, including both their supplemental picks.