ARLINGTON, Texas — Cole Hamels is coming off the shortest start of his 29-game career with the Rangers, a four-inning loss last Sunday at Target Field. Yet it seems the Twins aren’t certain whether to draw confidence from that success against the Texas ace left-hander — they know they can beat him, right? — or concern. What are the chances, after all, that he’ll have two consecutive awful starts?
We’ll find out soon, when the Twins try to extend their winning streak to four games, which would tie their longest of the season. Hamels, 9-2 with a 2.93 ERA, will face a Minnesota lineup stacked with eight righthanders or switch-hitters, one that excludes Joe Mauer. The first baseman has appeared in 81 of the Twins’ 85 games so far, and manager Paul Molitor is concerned about keeping him fresh for the second half.
“He’s been swinging better his last couple of games, for sure,” Molitor said of Mauer, who is 7-for-13 in his last three games. “The break will help him, but the more we can recharge him as we head into the second half, the better.”
Making his decision even easier: Mauer is 0-for-12 in his career against Hamels. “You look at those things,” Mauer admitted. “I don’t like small samples, just 12 at-bats, but Kennys [Vargas] had a good day swinging right-handed his last time out, and I’m just looking for a way to get people playing time.”
The game will be preceded by a moment of silence in tribute to the police officers who lost their lives last night just a few miles away from Globe Life Park. Molitor said he was aware of no consideration of postponing tonight’s game due to the tragedy in Dallas, but he was saddened by it.
Here are the lineups for tonight’s game against the Rangers: