CHICAGO — I lost track of my phone for about 10 minutes this afternoon. I used it to show a member of the Twins the video of Miguel Sano missing a popup during Rochester’s 3-2 loss to Pawtucket today, and well, suddenly that phone was being passed around the team’s clubhouse, as Sano’s teammates gathered in one group after another to watch the video. Big laughs all around, and I have no doubt Sano’s own phone was suddenly being peppered by text messages from Chicago.
Sano went 0-for-3 in the game and now definitely will not be rejoining the Twins here in Chicago. Twins manager Paul Molitor said there is still concern over how comfortable the second-year slugger looks at the plate. “He’s hit a couple of homers. That’s been about the extent of his offensive output, which isn’t bad,” Molitor said. “I just think you look for signs that … his at-bats are normal. It’s not always results or a hot streak [you’re looking for] — you can just tell if he’s recognizing pitchers or doing what you’re accustomed to him doing.”
Sano will play both ends of Rochester’s doubleheader against Syracuse tomorrow, Molitor said, manning third base again in one game and serving as designated hitter in the other. It’s possible he could be at Target Field on Friday, but the Twins aren’t committing to anything yet.
As for their game at U.S. Cellular Field, the Twins will try to win for the third straight game. Pitching has carried Minnesota the past two games, with Tyler Duffey and Kyle Gibson each throwing their best games of the season. Tonight is Ricky Nolasco’s turn, and Molitor was careful to say he doesn’t expect a shutout or anything like that; he just wants Nolasco to pitch the way he has most of the season.
“The numbers aren’t eye-popping, but they’ve been fairly steady. He’s given us a chance in almost all the games he’s been out there,” Molitor said of Nolasco, who is 3-5 with a 4.95 ERA. “That’s the trend I’m looking for, moreso than ‘OK, let’s back up what Duffey and Gibson did.’ Just go out and do what you’ve been doing.”
The Twins will face veteran James Shields, who may be 2-9 with a 6.22 ERA (and 0-2 with a 15.80 ERA since being traded to Chicago earlier this month), but whom Molitor believes can turn effective again at any moment.
“If he’s got his changeup working,” Molitor said, “it’s going to be a tough night.”
Here are the lineups for game 2 of this three-game series: