In order to make the Mariners feel at home, the Twins have imported a steady Seattle drizzle for tonight’s game. The showers are expected to pass through the Twin Cities right around 7 p.m., though, so both teams seemed optimistic that the game will start somewhat close to its scheduled 7:10 start.
It’s a pretty important game for the Mariners, who are two games out of the final wild card spot in the AL — that spot is currently occupied by Detroit, thanks to their three-game sweep here this week — but with Baltimore and Houston ahead of them, too, and New York just a game back. The Mariners must be kicking themselves for being swept by the Twins at Safeco Field in May.
They’ll get a chance to return the favor tonight, with Kyle Gibson on the mound for the Twins and lefthander James Paxton, who is 4-7 and hasn’t recorded a victory since Aug. 7, facing the Twins.
The stakes for the Twins? Well, they’re trying to stave off the worst record in franchise history, the 102-loss debacle of 1982, but with 98 losses and nine games remaining, that won’t be easy. And they need to sweep Seattle again to avoid the worst home record in Target Field history: the 31-50 mark they put up in 2012. Minnesota is 29-49 at home right now.
Max Kepler isn’t in the lineup for Minnesota tonight, but the rookie outfielder said his neck feels much better than he expected today. Kepler ran headlong into the padded wall along the right-field line during Thursday night’s game, and manager Paul Molitor feared that he might need several days to recover. That’s a problem since the Twins, with Eddie Rosario and Danny Santana already out for the season, are down to just four outfielders on the roster.
But Kepler said he woke up without much lingering soreness, and he could play tonight if needed. He expects to be back in the lineup this weekend.
Here are the lineups for the first game of the season’s final series at Target Field: