Paul Molitor didn’t like the atmosphere in the dugout during Game 1 of the Twins’ doubleheader against Colorado on Thursday at Target Field, and the manager used an unusual method to address it.
In the middle of the fifth inning, he gathered the team in the dugout for a midgame speech. He knew Ervin Santana was frustrated about his lack of command. He knew his offense was frustrated about not driving in runs, as the Twins were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
And he knew many players weren’t happy with plate umpire David Rackley’s strike zone. Joe Mauer had words for Rackley after taking a called third strike in the third inning.
“Just a sense of something hanging around that didn’t feel very good,” Molitor said. “I was just trying to have them push forward a little bit, which is what you should do anyways.”
And part of his advice was to quit worrying about ball-and-strike calls and play through it. He wanted the Twins to focus on getting to Rockies righthander German Marquez, whose pitch count was rising.
“That was in there somewhere,” Molitor said.
Did it work? Eddie Rosario worked a 10-pitch at-bat before hitting a triple. Byron Buxton had a nine-pitch at-bat before drawing a walk. Mauer walked as well. The Twins scored their only run of the game in the inning, on Brian Dozier’s sacrifice fly.
But that was all the Twins could muster against Marquez.
Mejia to start Saturday
There was a reason why Adalberto Mejia was pulled after 33 pitches for Class AAA Rochester on Tuesday.
Mejia, 0-1 with a 5.79 ERA in three April starts with the Twins, is expected to start on Saturday against the Royals.
“That’s how we’re planning it right now,” Molitor said. “But there’s some potential to change. But that’s why we shortened him up the other night.”
Now the Twins need a starter for Monday, since they played a doubleheader Thursday. Lefthander Adam Wilk could get the nod, as long as the Twins don’t need him out of the bullpen over the next few days.
Righthander Kyle Gibson, who has a 2.92 ERA with 18 strikeouts in 12 ⅓ innings at Rochester since being sent down May 4, could be in the mix.
The Twins need to clear space on the roster for Mejia and possibly again Monday if they bring Gibson back.
The strikeout surge is on for righthander Ryan Pressly.
Pressly snapped off curves and threw a couple fastballs that hit 98 miles per hour on the radar gun Thursday during a scoreless two-inning outing that lowered his ERA from 8.03 to 6.91.
What was encouraging for the Twins was that Pressly struck out five of the six batters he faced. This comes after he struck out all three batters he faced May 11 in Chicago. His 26 pitches Thursday were a season high.
“It was really impressive for him to do that,” Molitor said.
Molitor was going to use Pressly for just the eighth but liked that his pitches were down and it was a clean inning.
“We had some protection if they got a base runner on in the ninth,” Molitor said, “but he mowed them down. He continues to get better.”
Lefthander Glen Perkins will throw in the bullpen Friday as he works his way back from shoulder surgery. Another good session and the Twins will begin to discuss when he can face hitters.