Preview: Twins vs. Tigers
MINNEAPOLIS — Joe Mauer will be in the Minnesota Twins‘ lineup Friday night and he’ll probably be in there the rest of the weekend, too, as the Twins continue a four-game series with the Tigers at Target Field.
And barring injury, he’ll be suiting up on a regular basis over the last six weeks of the Twins’ disappointing 2018 season. But after that?
Well, that’s anybody’s guess at this point because Mauer, in the final year of an eight-year contract, isn’t talking about his future.
“I’m looking forward to going out and competing tonight,” he told the St. Paul Pioneer Press Thursday before the series opener.
Mauer is batting .269 with three home runs and 34 RBIs in 88 games this season, his 15th as a big leaguer — all of which have been spent with the Twins. The St. Paul native has made the playoffs four times in his career, but has never won a series, and admitted that the thought of someday playing in a World Series before his career is up pops into his head.
“Well, yeah, obviously I’m human. You think about that stuff,” Mauer said.
That won’t be happening this season.
The Twins’ high hopes of building of a surprise run to the wild-card game a year ago were dashed early in the season. Now, with time running out on a lost season, manager Paul Molitor has been using the remaining games to experiment a bit with the talent he’ll have moving forward — especially in the outfield.
Right fielder Max Kepler has seen time in center, with center fielder Jake Cave moving to left and left fielder Eddie Rosario spending time in right while reserve outfielder Johnny Field has gotten action at all three spots.
Molitor said the moves aren’t just for the sake of making moves. He wants his players to be prepared for situations that may come up in the future, such as when Byron Buxton landed on the disabled list earlier this season.
Buxton came off the minor league disabled list and returned to action with Triple-A Rochester earlier this week but is still a ways from returning to big league action, leaving Molitor to consider options.
“We’ve got outfielders who can play all positions,” Molitor said. “We were settled for a while there with Jake in center and Kep and Rosie and we’re just giving them a chance to see the game from a different perspective.”
The Twins opened the series on a high note, trouncing Detroit 15-8 behind five hits from Logan Forsythe and a seven-run sixth inning.
Based on the way he’s been pitching the last few weeks, Kyle Gibson (6-9. 3.49 ERA) won’t need that amount of support when he takes the mound Friday for the second game of the series. The right-hander held Detroit to a run over seven innings his last time out — a 4-2 victory in Detroit on Sunday — and has a 3.51 ERA over his last eight starts (4-3).
Gibson is 7-8 with a 5.22 ERA in 18 career starts versus the Tigers.
Detroit starter Matthew Boyd (7-10, 4.20) is facing the Twins for his second straight start. He also pitched well in his last outing, holding Minnesota to a run on two hits over six innings. Boyd has won three of his last four starts and has a 2.37 ERA since the All-Star break. He is 6-3 with a 3.79 ERA in 14 starts versus the Twins.