It’s reunion week at Target Field, with three coaches, one manager and two players who once wore Twins uniforms back in town. And while thee are plenty of hugs and handshakes, there are also practical considerations, Paul Molitor said.
“I know Joe Vavra will be hawking my signs,” Molitor said with a smile, speaking of his former bench coach and current Tigers coach, “so we’re going to mix it up a little bit and keep them guessing.”
There’s no guessing about the Twins’ chief concern tonight, as the Twins and Tigers open a three-game series, and it’s not the presence of Ron Gardenhire in the other dugout. The Twins are only 3-5 against left-handed starting pitchers, and the last two of them — Seattle’s Wade LeBlanc and Milwaukee’s Brent Suter — thoroughly dominated them. Minnesota scored one run in 11 1/3 innings against that pair, collecting just eight hits.
So Blaine Hardy, who starts tonight for Detroit, might not seem like such a big challenge, but the Twins know better. Molitor has three left-handed hitters in his lineup, but he spread them out, with Max Kepler batting second, Eddie Rosario fourth and Logan Morrison sixth.
The Twins can win back-to-back home games for the first time since April 10-12 if they solve Hardy, especially since Jose Berrios (pictured) is on the mound tonight. The Puerto Rican righthander makes his final start as a 23-year-old tonight — his next start, in Seattle on Sunday, falls on his 24th birthday. His two-hit, 10-strikeout performance last week against the Cardinals is a good sign that he’s back on track, Molitor said.
"We’re all encouraged,” Molitor said. “He’s a fun guy to watch, just because of the stuff he brings to the mound.”
Here are the lineups for tonight’s game: