Aaron Judge blasted a batting practice pitch into the third deck in almost straightaway center field during batting practice, drawing the first “oooo” from the pregame crowd that assembled to watch. The Twins hope that’s the extent of the damage he does here tonight.
Aren’t pitchers leery of such a strong, powerful hitter? “Not at all,” assured Ervin Santana. “It’s batting practice. Nobody’s trying to get him out yet.”
True enough, but it’ll be up to lefthander Adalberto Mejia to try to get Judge and his Yankee teammates out in the first of a three-game series in Target Field. The Twins went only 2-5 against the Yankees last year, and 1-3 in Target Field. And that was before New York added Judge, the midseason home run leader and frontrunner for the AL MVP Award.
The Twins aren’t saying how they want Mejia to approach pitching to Judge, of course, but whatever the plan, Twins manager Paul Molitor wants the lefthander to stick to it. That’s occasionally been a problem for Mejia.
It’s about “trusting his catcher,” Molitor said. “He’s got a tendency to shake off [signs] a lot, and have ideas about getting people out rather than trusting the plan we put together before the game.”
Mejia has been good lately, though; in his last five starts, though he’s averaged fewer than six innings each, he’s also posted an ERA of 2.79. Extending that streak would be terrific against the AL’s second-best offense.
“It’s going to be fun to play the Yankees, it always is,” Molitor said. “It seems like when you get a franchise of that magnitude, it makes it special. Hopefully we have some things for our pitching staff to implement and execute and minimize the damage.”
Here are the lineups for tonight’s first game of the three-game series: