It's a puffy white cloud afternoon in Detroit as the Twins try to shake off their latest worst loss of the season and beat the Tigers to remain relevant in the wild card race.
The Twins are 1.5 games out of the last wild card spot, but the challenge now is to catch Houston and the Angels. Los Angeles is a game in front of the Twins and one-half game behind the struggling Astros, who have lost three straight games.
Fans on twitter started shoveling dirt on the season after the bullpen blew a three-run lead. But stranger things have happened late in the season.
In 2008, the Twins trailed the White Sox by 2.5 games with eight to play. They went 5-3 over that span to catch Chicago and force Game 163.
In 2009, the Twins trailed Detroit by two games with nine to play. They went 6-3 to force Game 163. There's no doubt that the Twins need help if they are going to reach the postseason. History, a lot more than these two examples, tells us that teams that are leading with a week to go can go belly up. The Twins need to be ready to pounce.
The rotation for the next week's big series in Cleveland has been announced. Phil Hughes will face Corey Kluber on Monday. Kyle Gibson will face Cody Anderson on Tuesday. Mike Pelfrey will face Carlos Carrasco on Wednesday. And Tyler Duffey will face Josh Tomlin on Thursday.
That means that the rotation for the season-ending series at home against Kansas City looks to be Ervin Santana on Friday, followed by Hughes and Gibson. So Gibson would be unable to pitch a tiebreaker game if needed. Pelfrey would be in line to start such a game. Can't see the Twins juggling their rotation to put Gibson in that Monday slot because they are in chase mode and have to throw their best punches.
Tommy Milone is headed to the bullpen to see if his shoulder has recovered from fatigue. If so, he could be another bullpen option.
Will check back later with updates and lineups. Tyler Duffey is on the mound tonight, the first time he's faced the same team twice. The last time he started, he helped end a five-game losing streak by tossing seven shutout innings at the Angels. Does he have another outing like that up his sleeve tonight?
Tommy Milone's bullpen session went well. If he doesn't have a setback between now and Monday, he will be available out of the bullpen for the Cleveland series. Will he start again? That's up in the air. As I pointed out earlier, the Twins have released their rotation for the Indians series.
Trevor May, who has pitched just once since Sept. 19, is available out of the bullpen tonight. Glen Perkins, who blew up last night, will likely get the night off, so Brian Duensing might be needed in matchup situations late in the game. Molitor said he planned to, ``at least,'' check in with Perkins to make sure he's moved on from last night.
Molitor juggled the lineup, putting Brian Dozier first, Joe Mauer second and Miguel Sano third. Aaron Hicks was dropped to seventh. He's got to try to do something. The Twins scored all four of thieir runs in one inning on Friday after scoring in just two innings on Thursday. Molitor said he is looking for a lineup that can be more of a consistent threat.
Brian Dozier, 2B
Joe Mauer, 1B
Miguel Sano, DH
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Eddie Rosario, LF
Torii Hunter, RF
Aaron Hicks, CF
Kurt Suzuki, C
Eduardo Escobar, SS
Tyler Duffey, RHP
Anthony Gose, CF
Ian Kinsler, 2B
J.D. Martinez. RF
Nick Castellanos, 3B
James McCann, C
Dixon Machado, SS
Rajai Davis, LF
Alfredo Simon, RHP