It wasn’t what they needed, but the Twins still have some life after winning two out of four games in Detroit. Thursday’s game turned into a rout in the eighth as Minnesota ended up winning 8-3. That leaves the Twins two games back with three to play.
What’s left may favor the Twins a bit. They have three home games against the Royals this weekend, while the Tigers have a home series against the White Sox. Let’s look at the probable matchups:
Kansas City at Minnesota
Fri: Lenny DiNardo vs. Jeff Manship
Sat: Zack Greinke vs. Nick Blackburn
Sun: Luke Hochevar vs. Brian Duensing
Chicago at Detroit
Fri: Jake Peavy vs. Edwin Jackson
Sat: Freddy Garcia vs. Alfredo Figaro
Sun: John Danks vs. Justin Verlander
Minnesota‘s starters are all tentative at the moment, but that’s how it’s lining up. Manship appears likely to get the nod on Friday because Francisco Liriano threw an inning Wednesday. Blackburn would be starting on short rest after being pushed back from Monday to Tuesday by the rainout.
The Tigers aren’t in such an urgent position, so they won’t go with Verlander on short rest Saturday. Verlander will probably be limited to a couple of innings Sunday if the Tigers have clinched by then. The Tigers will also probably want Rick Porcello to throw a couple of innings then.
The Greinke roadblock is huge, so even if the White Sox step up and claim two out of three games this weekend, the Twins have their work cut out for them to force a one-game playoff.
Not all players coming in to spring training are in The Best Shapes of Their Lives. Some have put on a few pounds, such as Miguel Sano, notes Twins GM Thad Levine:
Sano has been given medical clearance to engage in all baseball workouts with his teammates, his surgically reinforced left shin now completely healed, though the Twins intend to lighten his schedule to prevent any new injuries.
They’d like to lighten something else, too: His “generous carriage,” as General Manager Thad Levine delicately put it last week. Sano’s conditioning understandably lags, after a winter largely spent incapacitated by the surgery.
Sano’s conditioning has often been a topic of conversation among the members of the Minnesota press corps, though not always in good faith. For example, last year when Sano injured his shin by fouling a ball off of it, one member of the The Fourth Estate found a way to make a column out of blaming the freak injury on Sano’s conditioning. At least in this instance his colleague is correctly noting that the poor conditioning is a result of the injury and not the cause.
Still, it’s just another issue facing Sano this spring. He’s out of shape, coming off of an injury, and — not that he’s due any sympathy for it — he’s facing a likely suspension arising out of the allegations of sexual assault leveled against him late last year.
So this spring we’ll be seeing more of Sano, it seems. At least until that time we’ll be seeing less of him.