CHICAGO – After following two games Monday with a day’s worth of discussion, the Twins will give Dillon Gee another start, pitching the veteran righthander Saturday at Toronto, manager Paul Molitor said Tuesday night.
Gee had been pitching well out of the Twins bullpen, and Molitor has made it clear he values having an experienced long reliever. But Gee retired 18 of 20 hitters he faced in a victorious start over the White Sox on Monday night.
Earlier Tuesday, the Twins mulled whether to start Gee, Tim Melville or Aaron Slegers vs. the Blue Jays. But Melville, who gave up five runs in 3⅓ innings in losing the first game of Monday’s doubleheader, was designated for assignment after Tuesday’s game, and the Twins will call up righthanded reliever John Curtiss, a source with knowledge of the move confirmed.
Curtiss, 24, would become the 35th pitcher to take the mound for the Twins this season, the franchise-record 50th player to wear the uniform — and, coincidentally, the fifth Texan to populate the current Twins bullpen. The 2014 sixth-round pick had a combined 1.28 ERA in 39 games between Class AAA Rochester and Class AA Chattanooga this year.
Even though Melville didn’t look sharp in his Twins debut, Molitor said deciding to risk losing him wasn’t an easy call. Melville, 27, began the year pitching in the independent Atlantic League before signing with the Twins in June, earning a big-league promotion after making 10 starts with Rochester.
“It’s tough, given what he’s had to fight through to get himself back up here. One look isn’t always the fairest way to go about it,” Molitor said. “Sometimes you get put in tough situations, make tough choices.”
Melville’s future is in doubt for the next week, but he said he hopes to continue his career with the Twins.
“To have a chance to contribute here would be an honor,” he said. “I just have to continue to develop what I have, what I’ve learned — command the fastball a little better, that’s important up here — and we’ll see what happens.”
Max Kepler ate something that made him sick, or came down with a summer flu bug. Whatever the cause, the outfielder “didn’t have a really good night, [and] struggled a bit this morning,” according to Molitor.
Kepler sat out a second game in a row. Infielder Ehire Adrianza again played left field in Tuesday’s 4-1 victory, with Eddie Rosario moving to Kepler’s usual spot in right.
With Kepler, Miguel Sano and Robbie Grossman all sidelined, Twins lineups are taking on some unique shapes. Jorge Polanco, who homered for the third game in a row Tuesday and is in the midst of the hottest streak of his career, batted third for the first time in his career. Byron Buxton batted fifth, becoming the 12th Twins player to occupy that spot in the starting lineup this year.
Rare save for Duffey
The last time Tyler Duffey earned a save in an important game, it was more than a one-inning appearance, too. He went two innings vs. Prairie View A&M in the 2012 NCAA tournament for Rice, where he shared closer duties with J.T. Chargois.
So it had been a while for Duffey, who was applauded by teammates after Monday night’s second-game victory for earning his first major league save.
“I was hoping he’d be sharp, which he was,” Molitor said. “He was efficient.”
So efficient, Molitor changed his mind about limiting Duffey to two innings. The righthander retired the first six hitters he faced on 25 pitches, so he was given the ninth inning, too.
Molitor turned 61 Tuesday, celebrating by spending half the day with his oldest daughter, Blair.
“When you turn 60, that gets your attention,” he joked. “Today was a little more under the radar.”