When a team underachieves, as the Twins have this season, changes are often made.
So all eyes will be on the Twins front office and ownership to see if, in addition to new players, they also will push for changes among the coaching staff.
One person who wants a shot to turn things around next season is manager Paul Molitor. When asked before Wednesday’s game if he wants to return in 2019, Molitor didn’t hesitate.
“Yeah,” he said. “I don’t have any doubts about that.”
The Twins then went out and whipped Detroit 11-4 behind two home runs by Johnny Field, a home run by Tyler Austin and a bases-loaded triple by Jorge Polanco. It was Molitor’s 300th career victory to go with 343 losses.
“It snuck up on me a little bit,” Molitor said. “Didn’t realize it until Joe [Mauer] acknowledged it after the game, which was nice. I guess baseball likes round numbers. Would like to get to 300 wins already before you’ve seen 300 losses [he has 343], but that hasn’t been the case. Keep moving forward.”
Righthander Jake Odorizzi was knocked out in the fourth inning after giving up four runs on six hits and a career-high-tying five walks. But reliever Tyler Duffey replaced him with the bases loaded and gave up only a sacrifice fly. Field hit his second homer of the game, a two-run shot to left that was verified by replay, in the fifth.
The Twins then exploded for five runs in the fifth. Chris Gimenez hit a two-run single to score Robbie Grossman and Austin, while Jake Cave moved to second. With Mauer batting, the runners moved up on a wild pitch, and the Tigers countered by intentionally walking Mauer.
Facing Tigers reliever Zac Reininger, Polanco hit a shot to the gap in left-center, driving in all three runners and putting the Twins ahead 11-4.
The win allows the 73-84 Twins to avoid 90 losses. It is a small consolation in a season that began with high expectations following a run to the wild-card game a year ago. The Twins battled injures and Polanco’s PED suspension early and never got on track. When the trade deadline came, the front office hit the unload button, training away six players for mostly prospects. The Twins have been playing out the schedule ever since.
Twins owner Jim Pohlad, during an interview Wednesday, expressed his disappointment over the season but said he will listen to any recommendations made by Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey and General Manager Thad Levine on personnel matters. He then was asked if he wanted Molitor to return next season.
“I have no idea what they are going to come with,” Pohlad said of the front office. “No matter if we win the World Series or have a disappointing season like this, they are going to come with recommendations. Some of those recommendations could be personnel changes, could be methodology changes. I don’t know, but I look forward to that.”
Falvey would not speculate on the future of Molitor and the coaching staff, but said there will be meetings right after the season ends to determine if changes are necessary.
“Get to the end of the season,” Falvey said, “let the season end and meet and then start talking about what that looks like. But we’ll do that in a thoughtful manner.”