DETROIT – Twins righthander Ricky Nolasco threw six strong innings Monday, which manager Paul Molitor had a feeling he would do.
Molitor also had a premonition about his offense, and that came true too.
Hours after the Twins announced Terry Ryan had been fired as general manager, they were held to three hits in a 1-0 loss to Detroit at Comerica Park. It marked the fewest hits for the Twins since they were held to two April 23 at Washington.
Molitor openly worried about his offense after the Twins came out of the All-Star break by scoring eight runs and batting .190 in three home games against Cleveland.
The offense that looked robust heading into the break is still on break, and it made Tigers lefthander Matt Boyd (1-2, 4.91 ERA) look nearly unhittable. Boyd tossed six innings with one walk and seven strikeouts.
“You look up there in the middle innings and you’ve got a chance,” Molitor said. “But our offensive troubles continue here through the first four games coming out of the break. We had trouble, particularly, with Boyd’s offspeed stuff.”
Max Kepler legged out a two-out double in the fourth inning after hitting a grounder through the shortstop hole against a shift. He was stranded as the Twins’ only runner in scoring position.
In the ninth, Miguel Sano drew a one-out walk off closer Francisco Rodriguez and was replaced by pinch runner Danny Santana. On a 3-2 pitch to Brian Dozier, Santana took off for second. Dozier swung and missed, and Santana was out thanks to a good throw by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and a quick tag by second baseman Ian Kinsler.
Molitor challenged the play because, well, he had nothing to lose. The review took 25 seconds to confirm that the game was over.
“Couldn’t put the ball in play to try to extend the inning,” Molitor said. “I don’t think Danny got his best jump, but 3-2, you’re a little more careful I guess.”
That made Nolasco’s one mistake of the night costly. His 1-2 fastball to Justin Upton in the second inning was deposited into the seats in left for the game’s only run.
“It was a good pitch,” Nolasco said. “Tip the cap when a guy can do that.”
Nolasco (4-8) gave up one run in an outing for the third time this year and the first since April 21. He was able to tame Victor Martinez, who entered 7-for-14 against him. Nolasco got out of a bases-loaded jam in the third inning by getting Martinez to fly out on a sinker.
“He’s probably the last guy I’d want to face, to be honest with you,” Nolasco said. “Let alone with the bases loaded. A 2-0 count, to make it worse.”
The Twins dropped to 0-7 against the Tigers this season — but at least this loss took only 2 hours, 26 minutes.
Sano back at third
Miguel Sano returned to third base after getting Sunday off, going 1-for-3 with a walk. But he played an errorfree game in the field, collecting two assists along the way.
Sano’s defense needs work, but he is also back at the hot corner after spending part of winter, all of spring training and most of this season trying to play right field and not working much at third.
“I think there’s a little bit of rust that can settle in when you have someone at a position for a fair amount of time,” Molitor said. “He mixed in a couple games early, but he hasn’t had the day-to-day routine. We started to do something with him almost on a daily basis to build both confidence and improvement.”