Ervin Santana’s case of the June hiccups seem to have subsided in July. That’s the premise that Paul Molitor is operating under.
Santana had a couple of scoreless outings last month, yet still finished June with a 6.03 ERA, a reflection of the crazy good-start-bad-start pattern that afflicted him for four weeks. But since the calendar changed, Santana has given up four runs in 15 innings, and 2.40 ERA that’s a lot closer to his norm.
“I don’t worry about Erv,” said Molitor, the Twins’ manager, as he geared up for a three-game series with the Tigers. “He’s had a couple stretches where maybe his outings weren’t what we had seen early in the year. But it’s inevitable that you’re going to have a little bit of ebb and flow.”
Most encouraging, Molitor said, is that Santana has been able to spot more than his fastball in the strike zone lately. “The command’s come back on the slider. The fastball’s been there all along, for the most part. I think he’s in a good place right now.”
Hector Santiago and Byron Buxton may be headed toward a new place soon — Rochester, N.Y. Santiago threw a 45-pitch bullpen on Friday, and Buxton did a mini-workout during batting practice, and Molitor said they Twins are close to making decisions about both. If Buxton reports no soreness, he’ll head to the Twins’ Class AAA team for a few weekend games, before he’s eligible to come off the disabled list on Tuesday. Santiago may take a little longer to return, but he could take the first step toward that in the next few days, too. Molitor said it’s also possible the Twins would ask him to throw a session of live batting practice, to sharpen up against hitters, before being inserted into a minor-league game as part of his rehab.
There’s an ex-Twins sighting in tonight’s Detroit lineup: Alex Presley, the outfielder acquired from Pittsburgh when the Twins traded away Justin Morneau in 2013, is in right field tonight for the Tigers.
Here are tonight’s lineups for the first of a three-game series: