NEW YORK — The Twins didn’t win last night, but they could have. Paul Molitor hopes that realization helps his team relax and hit a little bit better tonight against CC Sabathia than they did against Jaime Garcia.
“Let’s hope so. [It’s] another challenge to go out there tonight and try to find a way to score some runs off an established, veteran pitcher who’s had a good year,” Molitor said. “Collectively, you hope that second night in here, maybe there’s a little bit more relaxed approached to the game. They now kind of get what it’s like to play here in September. We’ve just got to try to give our pitcher a little bit more support.”
That pitcher is Jose Berrios, who has never pitched in New York before. He’s 1-0 against the Yankees, though, having limited them to one run over 6 1/3 innings at Target Field in July. The Twins have a lot of confidence in the 23-year-old righthander, but they know he’s got a lot on his mind these days, too. In addition to pitching in the middle of a postseason race, Berrios became a father for the third time last week, and now Hurricane Maria, another category 5 storm, is about to slam his Puerto Rican homeland.
“He and Kennys [Vargas] and Rosie [Eddie Rosario] are all dealing with another bout of anxiety related to their homeland,” Molitor said. “I haven’t checked with them on it specifically today, [but it’s] hard to imagine it’s not at least a little bit on their minds.”
Meanwhile, the Twins learned that Wednesday’s challenge has grown a little bigger. Yankees manager Joe Girardi had planned to give his ace, righthander Luis Severino, an extra day off and start Masahiro Tanaka in the series finale instead. But Girardi announced Tuesday that he’s changed his mind — in order to have the flexibility to start Severino three times in the season’s final two weeks, just in case there’s a chance of catching Boston for the AL East title, he’s going to keep Severino on his regular rest, which means starting him Wednesday.
Severino is 13-6 with a 2.93 ERA and 218 strikeouts in 184 innings this season, and if the Yankees don’t catch the Red Sox, he’s the likely starter in a wild-card game. So getting an early look at him might help the Twins in a couple of weeks, but it makes their task more difficult this week.
Tonight, the Twins face lefty Sabathia, who has a career 18-9 record against the Twins and a 3.16 ERA. Max Kepler gets a start in right field, even though his contributions against left-handers have been so scarce this season. Kepler has one extra-base hit against left-handed pitching since April 15.
Here are the lineups for the second of three games in Yankee Stadium: