SEATTLE — The Twins just finished batting practice, and fans applauded as they did. Miguel Sano happened to be in the last group today, and I think I can sum up his round, and the fans’ reaction, rather succinctly: Wow.
Sano has taken over the lead at his position in the All-Star voting, and while these pregame shows aren’t the reason, they certainly do nothing to detract from the legend. The powerful infielder launched bomb after bomb into the upper deck in left field. A group of fans trying to catch BP balls had congregated along the railing of the upper deck, and Sano kept hitting them over their heads, until the finally started moving farther up the rows.
The pregame show concluded, the Twins will now try to keep their momentum going after taking three out of four in Anaheim, but they’re aware it won’t be easy. The Mariners have won seven of their last eight games, and five of their last six at home. Yes, the Twins swept the series here last May, their only three-game road sweep of the season, but it’s still a challenge.
“Long trips are tough. The longest trip we had last year was seven games,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said of the current trek, a 10-gamer that extends to San Francisco this weekend. “We did get off to a good start, but we know each series is going to provide it’s own challenges. Seattle is a hot club, particularly here at home, they’ve got a lot of guys really starting to swing the bats.”
It will be up to Hector Santiago to deal with that, and Molitor said the lefthander has been tinkering with his mechanics, and also pitching more from the stretch, to straighten himself out. Santiago has given up 13 home runs, five in his last seven innings, and Safeco Field can feel small under the right circumstances. Just ask Sano.
The Twins are without Jorge Polanco, who left for the airport shortly after arriving at the ballpark. He received word this afternoon that his grandfather, Maximo Polanco, had died in the Dominican Republic, so he will be away from the team for at least this series. The Twins will place Polanco on the bereavement list tomorrow, when a replacement arrives. They haven’t announced that player’s identity, but Kennys Vargas was scratched from Class AAA Rochester’s lineup Tuesday night.
Here are the lineups for tonight’s series opener: