It’s going to be fun, Paul Molitor predicted Tuesday, “if we see [Brian Dozier] get to 30” home runs this season. “That’s a pretty big milestone for a little second baseman.”
As the Twins are finding out this season, however, Dozier’s blasts are a lot less fun when they don’t contribute to a victory. Dozier smacked an Anibal Sanchez fastball into the Detroit bullpen on Tuesday, setting a new career high with 29 home runs. But Kyle Gibson walked in a run, threw a wild pitch that allowed another, and gave up five runs for the third time this month, sending the Twins to their fifth straight loss, 8-3 at rainy Target Field.
Dozier has now slugged 10 home runs in August, the best month of his career. But only three of those August homers came in service to a win, and the Twins have fallen 27 games below .500, just two away from their July 1 low-water mark.
“It’s a tough time of year when we get down to the end,” Molitor said, “but we keep trying to motivate guys and help them to recognize the opportunity they have to become better players.”
For Gibson, becoming better means recovering his on-again-off-again control. The righthander (5-8) faced 24 Tiger batters Tuesday, and 11 of them reached base. Five of them scored, bloating Gibson’s ERA to a disappointing 5.09.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” Gibson said. “You try to find that consistency, find that release point that allows you to keep your control for a long amount of time. Sometimes it’s harder to find.”
Not that the bullpen has been much better. Michael Tonkin relieved Gibson with two runners on base, and after getting two outs without allowing them to move up, Tonkin gave up a two-out single to Cameron Maybin that broke a 3-3 tie.
Worse, Tonkin served up home runs to Erick Aybar and Victor Martinez the following inning, giving him 11 home runs allowed this season — most by a Twins reliever since Brian Bass in 2008.
May has examination
While the Twins were on the road last week, Trevor May visited the Mayo Clinic for a new series of tests, including a bone scan, on his sore back. All confirmed what he knew already: His back pain “is not a cause,” he said. “It’s a symptom.”
May’s back has acted up three different times since he was moved to the bullpen a year ago, and several doctors have now theorized that throwing harder and more often — and with a stride that’s a little too long — have aggravated the muscles in his lower back. But May hasn’t felt any pain for a week, and after throwing on level ground Monday, he’s optimistic again that he will pitch for the Twins during September.
“I’d love to get back for the last few weeks of the season, and show them I’m healthy going into the offseason,” May said. “I want to be ready to go in spring training.”
Rotation to remain as is
Twins manager Paul Molitor plans no changes to his team’s starting rotation, despite the opportunity that an off day on Monday gives them.
And don’t look for many new faces in the rotation in September, either.
Righthander Alalberto Mejia, for instance, “is probably going to get a couple starts before [Class AAA] Rochester’s season ends, and that’s going to cap him out” at close to 150 innings, Molitor said. Interim General Manager Rob Antony, who visited Rochester last week, will meet soon with the manager to determine what players the Twins might add when rosters expand to 40.