It’s funny that a team that has won only 32 games this season is hoping that the All-Star break didn’t disrupt its momentum, but in the Twins’ case, it’s actually true. Seven of those 32 victories came in the final nine days of the first half, and it’s changed the atmosphere around the team, something that Paul Molitor would like to continue.

    “It was a lot better than some of the other periods we had to endure — just more competitive, day to day,” Molitor said after four days off. “The starting pitching gave us a better chance, and I think the team feeds off that. You know that you’re going to be in the game.”

    That’s a big change, of course; the Twins have lost 15 games by five or more runs, but that sort of blowout loss hasn’t happened in nearly a month now, since June 17. So there is reason to welcome competitive baseball back to Target Field, where the Twins have won seven of their last 10.

    “My message today was very brief for the players — there’s always something to play for,” Molitor said. “We can’t get too engulfed by where we’re at, because that’s the reality for all of us. But anytime you put on a uniform, it’s something we should respect, and go out there and give what you have every day.”

    Here are the lineups for the first game of a three-game series to open the second half:




Santana DH

Kipnis 2B

Lindor SS

Napoli 1B

Ramirez 3B

Chisenhall RF

Gomes C

Naquin CF

Davis LF


Carrasco RHP




Nunez SS

Mauer 1B

Sano 3B

Dozier 2B

Kepler RF

Vargas DH

Grossman LF

Suzuki C

Buxton CF


Santana RHP

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