HOUSTON — The Twins will try to stay perfect on this six-game road trip tonight, and try to score enough runs that umpire’s calls on the field won’t matter to the outcome. But just in case, they’d like their video monitors to work correctly this time.
The Twins’ video system, which allow, in this case, assistant advance scout Frankie Padulo, to quickly review each play from several angles, wasn’t working properly on Monday, so Padulo was forced to watch live TV broadcasts from Fox Sports North and SportsNet Southwest, basically, in hopes they would show usable replays.
“It would come in and then it would go out, and then it would come in again. The monitor was not working,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We were able to communicate [with Padulo, stationed in the clubhouse], but we didn’t have much to communicate about.”
Baldelli conferred with home plate umpire Dana DeMuth a couple of times during the game, including once after a throwing error by Marwin Gonzalez that allowed George Springer to advance to second base, a play that the Twins might have considered challenging.
“Just making sure he knew what was going on and making sure we had everything lined up to do the best that we could,” Baldelli said, presumably including some leeway on the 30-second deadline teams have to decide whether to challenge a call. It’s difficult for a manager to tell from across the field whether a call is worth challenging, he said. “You can think you see something, but it doesn’t matter. You’re too far away, and things are happening too fast to really know what’s going on,” he said. “You rely on the guys inside to tell you what’s going on, because you have to. And when you don’t have that ability, you just don’t have it. You do the best you can.”
Unlike other sports, baseball has no rule about both teams having to play without technology if one side’s is not working, so Baldelli wanted the umpires to be aware of their difficulties.
The Twins will face a left-handed starting pitcher, the Astros’ Wade Miley, tonight for the first time all season, an unusual drought that means their hitters haven’t gotten used to seeing lefties. Max Kepler has the most plate appearances against left-handers, but only 14. And since he’s 2-for-14, it makes sense to move the Twins’ normal leadoff hitter down in the order; he’ll bat eighth tonight, with Mitch Garver — 4-for-5 against lefties this year — atop the lineup.
“We’ve thought about it a little bit, but what are you going to do? You just kind of deal with it,” Baldelli said of the dearth of left-handers. “When we face our next right-handed starter — it looks like [Justin] Verlander [on Wednesday] — I wouldn’t be surprised if Max is right up there at the top again.”
With 35 runs scored in their first four games on this trip, the Twins took a day off from batting practice on Tuesday, limiting the pregame work to just a session of ground balls for the infielders.
Here are the lineups for the second game of this three-game set at Minute Maid Park: