KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Twins don’t play Monday, and that might be a good thing. Pennant races are exhilarating — but exhausting, too.
“This is a perfect day for an off day,” catcher Chris Gimenez said. “A lot of young guys have come in and given us a shot in the arm. But now we’re going home and can catch our breath for a minute. I think everyone feels like we need a day.”
With 21 days remaining in the season, the Twins still have 19 games to play, and they remain ahead of the pack chasing the final AL wild-card spot. Not that manager Paul Molitor wants his players to think about that, or about Sunday’s loss.
“This thing’s going to take a lot of turns, that’s just the way it’s going to be,” Molitor said. “You can’t dwell too long. You try to learn, maybe take something out of the game that you can [use to] make yourself a better player, a better pitcher. And then, hopefully you get a chance to get away from the game for a day.”
Rather than worry about a loss that’s in the past, Gimenez said he is encouraging teammates to revel in the position they are in, and the surprise that it represents to so many observers.
“Not many people expected us to be in the position we are, so just enjoy it. We just can’t get caught up in, ‘Oh man, we’ve got a one-game lead, now it’s a half-game, whatever,’ ” Gimenez said. “We’ve already exceeded expectations and now we want to get the playoffs. We can really smell it now, how special it would be to pull that off.”
Mejia back in rotation
Adalberto Mejia headed back to the Twin Cities on Sunday, his rehab from a strained left biceps now complete after throwing five scoreless innings in a playoff game for Class AA Chattanooga on Saturday. The lefthander is headed back someplace else, too: right back into the Twins’ starting rotation.
“We’re going to sort out by Tuesday how we want to proceed, as far as when he might take the baseball,” Molitor said. “We’re going to slot him back in there.”
With Kyle Gibson and Ervin Santana already penciled in for the two-game series with the Padres this week, Mejia could start Thursday, when Toronto comes to town. That would enable Molitor to give Jose Berrios, who already has a career-high 170 innings between the Twins and Class AAA Rochester this season, an extra day of rest. But Molitor said he’s not so certain the 23-year-old needs or wants it.
“You could think that, given the obvious circumstances of pitching so late in the season,” Molitor said. “But I know he’s feeling really good about how he’s throwing the baseball.”
Mejia could also throw Friday or Saturday, depending on when Molitor decides to use Bartolo Colon, who recorded only five outs Sunday in his shortest start of the season. The Twins have scheduled a “Big Sexy Night” special promotion in honor of Colon for Friday, but Molitor said marketing won’t enter into his decision.
The reports on Mejia from the Twins’ minor league staff were “good across the board,” Molitor said. “Changeup command, fastball command — [his] typical two-seamer 89 [miles per hour], four-seamer 94. He pitched well.”
• The Twins turned 11 double plays in the four games at Kauffman Stadium, setting a franchise record for a series.
• Kennys Vargas connected on his 10th home run of the season in the ninth inning, equaling his career high.
• Jonathan Rodriguez hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift Chattanooga to a 3-2 victory over Montgomery in Game 5 of their Southern League best-of-five semifinal series. Chattanooga, managed by Joe Mauer’s brother, Jake Mauer, will be co-champion with Pensacola. The final was canceled because of Hurricane Irma.