KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s probably hard to tell amid all the winning, but the Twins are — well, don’t spread this around — sort of just playing out the string.
Oh, they’re still trying while they’re on the field, and again, they’ve won five straight games heading into this afternoon’s game with the Royals. But with nothing to be gained or lost in the standings this final weekend, they’ve temporarily lost interest in the outcome.
And that’s a good thing, Rocco Baldelli said.
“There’s just a background of stress and anxiety in showing up every day. You have to play, you have to perform,” Baldelli said candidly. “Having a couple of days to regroup, play hard still and get some good work in to stay sharp, but also not having that stress of having to prove your worth or gain a spot in the playoffs, it is helpful to our group.”
In other words, they’re tired. But they know they have to re-energize by next Friday. Until then? Kauffman Stadium might as well be Hammond Stadium, the Twins’ spring training home.
“We’ll still go out and compete, and do our best,” Baldelli promised. “But having that slight mental break, not having to really live and die by the end result of the game, is really helpful.”
So, to today’s game, which was supposed to be played tonight until weather forecasts showed what a bad idea that would be. Cody Stashak will make his first career start for the Twins, though it’s obviously going to be a short one since he’s a reliever. Much of the bullpen will get an inning today. In the lineup, Mitch Garver, Luis Arraez and Jorge Polanco are playing today, after a night off in the series opener. Polanco has to days to collect six hits — if he can do it, he will pass Joe Mauer, who had 191 in his MVP season of 2009, for most hits in a season this century.
Here are the lineups for the 1:15 p.m. start: