CLEVELAND — Andrew Albers is, his manager concedes, “a tick below … major-league standards” when it comes to pitching velocity. But there’s more to pitching than fastballs, and Paul Molitor admires Andrew Albers for the way he’s fought his way back to the major leagues.
“I’m happy for him. He’s gone through a lot to continue his baseball career,” Molitor said before Albers’ first major-league start since 2013. “He’s had to travel across the oceans to keep it alive, but he’s back and getting another chance.”
He has a chance to snap the Twins’ long losing streak tonight, an 11-gamer that has dropped the Twins within one game of Atlanta for worst record in the majors. Albers, a 30-year-old lefthander who pitched in South Korea and in independent ball since leaving the Twins, is a good model for young pitchers, Molitor said. “He’s a guy that you really like having around here, in terms of how he handles himself,” Molitor said. “He doesn’t have a large margin of error, but he’s not afraid. He takes what he has out there, he has confidence in what he does, and he knows the importance of getting strike one, which gives him an opportunity to expand the zone and use his other pitches.”
Albers’ last debut for the Twins was a memorable one: He pitched 17 consecutive scoreless innings against Kansas City and Cleveland.
The Twins hope to give him a little more support than the zero runs they provided for Hector Santiago on Monday. Joe Mauer is the designated hitter tonight, with Eduardo Escobar back at shortstop against Cleveland righthander Josh Tomlin, who has beaten Tomlin twice this season.
Here are the lineups for tonight’s game: