Sano, Twins take on Mariners (Jun 07, 2017)

BY AP • June 7, 2017

SEATTLE -- Miguel Sano could hardly contain his excitement.

The Minnesota Twins third baseman took over the American League lead at his position Tuesday in fan balloting for this summer's All-Star Game.

"It makes me happy to be close to my first All-Star Game as a big-leaguer," said Sano, whose Twins continue a three-game series Wednesday against the Seattle Mariners. "Not everybody can be an All-Star. I would be glad to represent the Twins. They gave me an opportunity to be here."

Sano blew past Baltimore's Manny Machado and into first place among AL third basemen.

Sano is batting .306 with 14 home runs and 43 RBIs after going 2-for-5 on Tuesday while the Twins dropped the series opener 12-3 to the Mariners. He has 638,952 All-Star votes, nearly 100,000 more than Cleveland's Jose Ramirez (541,040). Machado (520,116) dropped to third.

Despite the Twins leading the AL Central, Sano is the team's only player in the top five in All-Star voting.

"There have been ups and downs, but I'm only thinking about every day doing my job," Sano said. "The team is winning. I'm trying to be a leader for this team, maybe that's what the fans see in me."

There have been plenty more ups than downs for Sano this season.

He is second in the AL in RBIs behind Seattle's Nelson Cruz, who has 46. Sano is fourth in the league in on-base-plus-slugging percentage (1.016), behind only the Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout (1.203), the New York Yankees' Aaron Judge (1.110) and the Yankees' Aaron Hicks (1.018).

And when Sano hits it, he hits it hard. His exit velocity of 96.6 mph leads the league.

Minnesota manager Paul Molitor, a seven-time All-Star during his playing days, isn't ready to declare Sano the winner yet.

"I probably have a much different perspective on that than he does," Molitor said. "It's still early; these things change."

And Molitor provided a cautionary tale.

"It's not bad for a young player, but it can be a distraction if you go out and try to hit home runs to make the All-Star Game," Molitor said. "He just needs to continue being himself. He's been a big factor for us having a good first 50 or so games. Let's keep it up."

Sano and the Twins are scheduled to go up against struggling Seattle right-hander Yovani Gallardo (2-6, 6.24 ERA) on Wednesday. The veteran has lost his past three starts, failing to pitch more than 3 2/3 innings in two of them.

"There always one bad inning when he comes off the rails and it's tough to get back on," Mariners manager Scott Servais said of Gallardo, who is 3-2 with a 3.02 ERA in nine career starts against Minnesota.

Gallardo believes he just needs to slow things down and keep it simple.

"This game is hard as it is to begin with. Then you go up on the mound and start worrying about release points and arm angles," Gallardo said. "It's frustrating for me because I haven't been pitching the way I've been feeling. I just need to stop worrying about the other things and just throw."

The Twins are set to start rookie Adalberto Mejia (1-1, 3.95 ERA). The left-hander has not allowed more than three runs in any of his six starts this year, but he has made it past the fifth inning only twice.

His most recent outing was one of his best, as he threw six innings of one-run ball Thursday in a no-decision against the Angels. He has yet to face the Mariners in his brief major league career.



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