There was a trade pulled off at Target Field today, but not the one Twins fans hoped. The Mariners, who open a four-game series here tonight, dealt their former No. 2 overall pick, Dustin Ackley, to the Yankees for a minor-league outfielder and reliever Jose Ramirez.
Will the Twins make a trade before Friday’s 3 p.m. CDT deadline? Even Paul Molitor says he doesn’t know, and he’s being kept up to date by general manager Terry Ryan. “Experience has taught me, you’re going to hear a lot of things, whether you’re a player, a fan, a manager. You just kind of wait and see if anything transpires,” Molitor said. “The best thing for me is to worry about things you can control in this job.”
In other words, he’s more concerned about breaking the Twins’ four-game losing streak, which has cut their lead in the wild-card chase to one game over Baltimore. But Molitor wants his team to focus not on the streak, but on all they have accomplished thus far this season. “We’re just trying to spread the word — remember where you’re at,” Molitor said. “We’ve got a lot of baseball yet to play. I’ve got a lot of confidence.”
He’s got confidence in Phil Hughes, his hottest starting pitcher in July. Hughes has a personal five-game winning streak going, and has posted a 2.49 ERA in July.
Another reason for confidence: The level of competition is a little different. The Twins have spent the past week and a half playing the Angels, Yankees and Pirates, playoff teams all. The Mariners, despite high hopes in March, are 10 games below .500 and, in trading Ackley, may have begun dismantling their team. The Twins took two out of three in Seattle, way back in April, and they won’t face Felix Hernandez this weekend.
Speaking of this weekend, that’s when Molitor expects Trevor Plouffe to return. The third baseman was present late last night for the birth of his first child, Theodore Winston James Plouffe, and Molitor urged him to take all three allowable days on the paternity list. “They’re going to take the time to get acclimated to the new life they have brought in,” Molitor said of Plouffe and his wife, Olivia. “I would take the three days if I was him, because it’s pretty special.”
Miguel Sano will fill in for Plouffe at third base tonight, and Jorge Polanco is playing short — “we’ve been joking we’re playing the Chattanooga left side of the infield,” Molitor said — to give each of the 22-year-olds a chance to get acclimated to big-league defense.
Here are the lineups for tonight’s game: