KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chattanooga Lookouts will play one game for the Southern League co-championship tonight against Montgomery, while Cedar Rapids tries to stay alive in its best-of-three Midwest League semifinal against Quad Cities. And here at Kauffman Stadium, the Twins are continuing their quest to qualify for the American League playoffs, which are now just three weeks away.
Paul Molitor said before the game that he’s been impressed with how focused the Twins are on winning. Even after a difficult loss last light, “I’m fairly confident we’re going to come out there with some energy today and try to find a way to go home with a nice series win against the Royals,” he said.
One hopeful sign for the Twins, who enter the day with a two-game lead over the Angels for the second AL wild-card spot, is Byron Buxton’s two-hit game on Saturday, which included his first home run in three weeks. The hits broke up an 0-for-21 stretch that Molitor said seemed to have no effect on the young outfielder.
“Byron has shown time and time again that he’s a mentally strong kid. He’s had to deal with a lot of expectations, a lot of pressure being the No. 1 prospect. He hasn’t always gone great offensively, but he seems to be the same guy,” Molitor said. “I know he gets frustrated like anybody. He fought through the last little stretch with no ill effects on his defense or his attitude or his desire to help us win. Hopefully that home run last night gets him going a little bit.”
With lefthander Jason Vargas, who has lost four straight starts and six of his last seven, on the mound for Kansas City, the Twins’ lineup is shifted around a little bit. Max Kepler will be on the bench and Eddie Rosario will move out of the cleanup spot in favor of Eduardo Escobar. Ehire Adrianza will play left field, and Chris Gimenez is behind the plate.
Here are the lineups for today’s final game of the weeklong road trip:
E. Escobar 3B
K. Vargas 1B
A. Escobar SS
J. Vargas LHP