DETROIT — Ricky Nolasco’s last visit to Comerica Park went about as poorly as a start possibly could. The Twins’ righthander, full of confidence after a strong spring training, lasted only three innings but needed 78 pitches to do it, got ripped for six runs by the Tigers, and felt a “spike” in his pitching elbow that wound up sidelining him for more than three weeks.
So the Twins are pretty sure tonight should be better.
Good enough to beat the Tigers, something they have yet to accomplish in Detroit this season? That’s another matter, but Twins manager Paul Molitor is optimistic. He believes the Nolasco he watched in spring training will show up again at some point.
“I compare it to being a hitter — sometimes [during] one at-bat, you just feel something,” Molitor said. “I keep hearing from [pitching coach Neil Allen] that his side sessions have been extremely sharp.”
Maybe so, but it has yet to transfer to the field. Nolasco is 2-1, but those numbers are a fluke, considering his ERA is 9.00. He has yet to last more than five innings in a start, and he has yet to allow fewer than three runs.
“He’s had trouble carrying over some of the things he’s doing in the bullpen. He gets a little quick with his front side, he loses command,” Molitor said. “Being a veteran guy, a guy who’s had success, it’s going to be a matter of going out and if you get people out, you start feeling better about what you’re doing. … I’m looking forward to seeing him pitch.”
Nolasco will face Kyle Lobstein, the lefthander who has held left-handed batters to a .216 career average. That doesn’t sound like an ideal matchup for Eddie Rosario, but Molitor has a lot of faith in the rookie’s ability to handle southpaw pitching. “I think it doesn’t matter. He stays in there,” Molitor said of his decision to play Rosario. “It’s more of a gut thing today. We don’t have any particular matchups or numbers, I just want to get him back in there.”
Here are the lineups for Game 2 of this series:
V. Martinez DH
J.D. Martinez RF