The Twins’ game didn’t end until 12:20 last night, meaning most players didn’t get home before 1:30. The Angels, after an all-night flight from Seattle, checked into their hotel around 6:30 a.m.
Nobody said you have to be well rested to be in a pennant race.
The first of four games against the Angels should start on time, with the late-afternoon drizzle finally clearing up at Target Field. The tension of the occasion probably won’t move on, though, because this is the first late-September series at Target Field critical to both teams since 2010. Minnesota is 1 1/2 games out of a postseason berth, Los Angeles is two games back of them, and both teams will be watching to see how the Astros, Rangers and Yankees are doing, too.
Both teams are coming off disappointing losses last night, and Paul Molitor has been busy making sure his team has put that 12-inning loss to the Tigers behind it. “We chatted just briefly after the game last night [about] the fact that it was a tough game that we had to put in the loss column,” Molitor said. “There’s no time to sit and have any self-pity moments. You’ve got to find ways to regroup; all you really have is your next game. It’s fun to pay attention to what’s going on, different series, but primarily you’ve got to find ways to win games.”
He’ll depend on Tommy Milone to get the Twins off to a good start, and that will require a bounce-back start, because Milone wasn’t himself in Chicago last Saturday. The low-velocity lefthander, after giving up two runs over his previous 14 innings, was belted for seven runs (albeit just four earned) in one ugly inning by the White Sox.
“His last start was really the first one in awhile where he was struggling to find his release point. He wasn’t missing by a lot, but in his case, and with his arsenal, he’s got to have that command within the strike zone,” Molitor said. “I’m encouraged he can rebound. I don’t like to go a lot of numbers this time of year because people have to go out and perform, but lefthanders have done fairly well against this [Angels] lineup. So hopefully he can continue that trend.”
He’ll be facing a pitcher who is coming off his two strongest starts in awhile. Lefthander Hector Santiago, who made the All-Star team in July, has allowed three runs over his last 13 innings, and his ERA of 3.21 is among the 10 best in the American League. He is 2-2 with a 3.74 career ERA vs. the Twins, but has not faced them this season.
Here are the lineups for tonight’s series opener: