KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Miguel Sano isn’t in the Twins’ lineup today. There, that ought to take care of his slump, right?
Paul Molitor wishes it was so. “The game’s not that easy, to where a day off is the cure-all. But I think it helps you kind of watch and take a mental break from going up there and trying to do something to help your team,” the Twins’ manager said. His transition to not playing third base “has been fairly seamless, and that’s because he’s had a good flow. When it goes against you for multiple days, all of sudden that idle time doesn’t become your friend anymore.”
Sano has one hit in his last 18 at-bats, and 12 strikeouts, a problem that Molitor suspects was exacerbated by the Twins’ weekend in Houston. Those Crawford Boxes in Minute Maid Park seem so close, it’s easy for right-handed pull hitters to make them a target, especially after pelting them during batting practice.
“Even at a subconscious level, Houston’s ballpark can make you feel that way. It’s like when you get to Fenway [Park] and the monster is inviting,” Molitor said. “You’re waiting for that pitch that you can pull, and when you’re not getting it, you might expand to try to force it. Next thing you know, you’re striking out nine out of 10 times. I told him last night, I’d like to see that line drive over the second baseman’s head.”
With Sano sitting out for a day — and perhaps two, since Thursday’s off day would give the rookie’s sore right hamstring a chance to recover, a factor Molitor said he is considering — Torii Hunter, who has five hits in his last two games, will serve as the DH, with the speedy defensive lineup manning the outfield.
Kyle Gibson faces Edinson Volquez, who is 12-7 but coming off a three-inning, six-run loss to Detroit.
Here are the lineups for tonight’s game in Kauffman Stadium: