TORONTO -- Before Tuesday's game against the Blue Jays, Twins manager Paul Molitor held a meeting to get a feel for the pulse of the team with its recent struggles since the All-Star break.
The meeting didn't pay immediate dividends, as the Twins continued their offensive struggles in a 3-1 loss to the Blue Jays that knocked them out of a playoff position for the first time since May 3. But Molitor said he's still optimistic about his club with two months left in the season, as it has just been in a recent rut offensively, scoring seven runs over the last five games.
By Gregor Chisholm and Rhett Bollinger
TORONTO -- Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki homered while right-hander Marco Estrada tossed 6 2/3 quality innings in the Blue Jays' 3-1 victory over the Twins on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre. With the win, Toronto moved one game ahead of Minnesota in the standings for the second American League Wild Card.
Right-hander Phil Hughes took the loss for Minnesota after allowing three runs on five hits over 5 2/3 innings. He surrendered both home runs and was pulled after Dioner Navarro hit an RBI double in the sixth. It was the second consecutive start that Hughes wasn't able to pitch at least six innings.
TORONTO -- Twins manager Paul Molitor reiterated on Tuesday that he plans to mix in Eduardo Escobar and Eduardo Nunez at shortstop, and that neither will be the club's everyday shortstop in the short term.
After the Twins optioned fellow shortstops Danny Santana and Jorge Polanco following Friday's game, Escobar started at shortstop for three straight games before Nunez made the start at short against the Blue Jays on Tuesday. Molitor said he'll continue to play both based on matchups.
Drew Hutchison has benefited greatly from pitching in the familiar confines of the Rogers Centre this season. The right-hander hopes his good fortune on home turf will continue when he takes the mound against the Twins on Wednesday.
Hutchison owns a 7-1 record and a 2.47 ERA pitching in Toronto this season, a stark contrast to his 9.00 road ERA. Hutchison has battled inconsistency for most of the season, but still boasts a sterling 9-2 record, thanks in large part to receiving a team-best 6.9 runs per game average.
TORONTO -- David Price dazzled in his Blue Jays debut, allowing just one run over eight innings, and he was backed by homers from Josh Donaldson and Ryan Goins in a 5-1 win over the Twins on Monday afternoon at Rogers Centre. The victory moved Toronto into a virtual tie with Minnesota for the second American League Wild Card spot.
Price, acquired from the Tigers before Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, gave up just three hits and walked two while striking out 11. The lone run he allowed came on a solo blast from Torii Hunter in the second inning.
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
TORONTO -- Paul Molitor will always be remembered by Blue Jays fans for being named the Most Valuable Player of the 1993 World Series, and he made his return to Rogers Centre as the manager of the Twins on Monday.
Molitor, who played in Toronto from 1993-95 after spending the first 15 years of his career in Milwaukee, said he has fond memories of his time with the Blue Jays.
TORONTO -- With the way the Twins' offense has been scuffling, the last pitcher they wanted to face on Monday was David Price.
Price had already dominated them this season in three outings with the Tigers, and he did it again in his Blue Jays debut, tossing eight strong innings to hand the Twins a 5-1 loss at Rogers Centre. It helped Price improve to 4-0 with a 1.16 ERA against Minnesota this season.
TORONTO -- Right-hander Tyler Duffey was officially promoted by the Twins on Monday, although the rookie took an interesting route to join the club in Toronto.
Duffey, who will make his Major League debut in a start against the Blue Jays on Wednesday, was surprised by the callup from Triple-A Rochester and didn't have his passport with him. So his father, Tim, had to fly from Houston to Rochester, N.Y., to bring it on Sunday. The two then made the three-hour drive to Toronto to join the team in time for Monday's game.
MINNEAPOLIS -- After a wild ninth inning that saw both teams exchange homers to send the game to extra innings, Logan Morrison connected on a go-ahead RBI double in the 11th to help lift the Mariners to a 4-1 win over the Twins on Sunday afternoon at Target Field.
"I haven't even taken batting practice in the last four to five days," said Morrison, who has been sidelined by a bruised thumb but entered as a pinch-runner in the ninth. "I was just trying to get something in middle of the plate. I didn't feel it. When you barrel it, you don't feel it no matter how bad your hand hurts."
Twins plate five total runs in final three of four-game set
By Betsy Helfand
MINNEAPOLIS -- For the second straight game, after not having their best day at the plate, the Twins entered the bottom of the ninth on Sunday down a run. And for the second straight game, the Twins tied it up. But unlike Saturday, the Twins were unable to come up with the go-ahead run they needed after that and lost to the Mariners, 4-1, in 11 innings.
Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma cruised through the eight innings, giving up just one hit -- a double to Eduardo Escobar -- and a walk. At one point, he retired 17 straight batters. And had Iwakuma completed the one-hitter, it would have been the second time in three days that the Twins were one-hit.
MLBPipeline.com's Prospect Team of the Week honors the best performances from the previous seven days. Any player currently on an organization Top 30 Prospects list on our Prospect Watch is eligible, including big leaguers.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins placed left-hander Tommy Milone on the 15-day disabled list with a mild left elbow strain on Sunday, and will select the contract of right-hander Tyler Duffey from Triple-A Rochester on Monday.
Duffey, ranked as Minnesota's No. 15 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, will make his Major League debut in Toronto on Wednesday to start on Milone's absence. Additionally, the Twins moved right-handed reliever Ryan Pressly to the 60-day DL to make room for Duffey on the 40-man roster.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Considering the Twins had scored just two runs on five hits over their previous 17 innings, with one of those runs coming on a wild pitch, there wasn't reason for much optimism heading into the ninth inning on Saturday.
But the Twins showed their resiliency against Mariners closer Carson Smith, scoring twice with two outs in the ninth, including a walk-off RBI single from Kurt Suzuki in a much-needed 3-2 win in front of a frenzied crowd at Target Field.
MINNESOTA -- The Twins completed a comeback in walk-off fashion Saturday night, scoring two runs in the ninth and ousting the Mariners, 3-2, with a Kurt Suzuki single off of Carson Smith with two outs. Twins rookie Miguel Sano led off the ninth inning with a double and pinch-runner Shane Robinson took third and home on wild pitches from Smith before Suzuki drove in left fielder Eddie Rosario, who had been intentionally walked.
"I think that anybody who plays this game wants to be in that position. I don't care where you are in the standings -- you want to be in that spot," Suzuki said. "I kind of had an idea they were going to do that just the way Rosie was swinging and the matchup. I was kind of hoping, 'OK, this is what it's all about. This is why you play.'"
Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Third baseman returns from paternity list, triples and scores in win
By Betsy Helfand
MINNEAPOLIS -- It might be some time before Teddy Plouffe makes his Target Field debut, but his father, Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe, was happy to be back at work in Saturday's 3-2 walk-off win vs. the Mariners after spending the past three days on the paternity list.
Plouffe went 1-for-4 with a triple and a run scored in his return on Saturday.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Sandy Valdespino has had the first weekend of August marked on his calendar since late January. That's when the former outfielder got a letter from the Twins informing him of the plan to hold a 1965 reunion weekend, honoring the pennant-winning group on its 50th anniversary.
"After that, I [couldn't] wait. I was very excited to come here," Valdespino said. "This is tremendous."
MINNEAPOLIS -- Reliever Kevin Jepsen, who was traded to the Twins from the Rays before Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, officially joined the club on Saturday, though he didn't pitch in his new club's 3-2 walk-off win over the Mariners.
Twins manager Paul Molitor met with Jepsen in his office before the game to explain his role to him, as Jepsen will serve as a setup reliever but could see time in the seventh and eighth innings depending on matchups.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins received much-needed relief help before Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, as they acquired right-handed reliever Kevin Jepsen from the Rays for two Minor Leaguers.
The Twins sent pitchers Chih-Wei Hu and Alexis Tapia to Tampa Bay. Hu was ranked Minnesota's No. 20 prospect by MLBPipeline.com. The Twins also designated Triple-A left-hander Caleb Thielbar for assignment. Jepsen will join the Twins on Saturday, and a corresponding move will come then.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Taijuan Walker was dominant Friday, helping the Mariners snap a four-game losing streak and giving up just one run on one hit in Friday's 6-1 victory over the Twins. Walker struck out 11 in the first nine-inning complete game of his career, and was aided by two RBIs apiece from Brad Miller, Jesus Montero and Nelson Cruz.
"You can see what this young man is going to become and it's going to be special," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said after the 22-year-old right-hander improved to 8-7 with a 4.73 ERA.
Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on
Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Twins make room on roster for newly acquired Jepsen, returning Plouffe
By Betsy Helfand
MINNEAPOLIS -- To make room for new acquisition Kevin Jepsen and third baseman Trevor Plouffe, who is returning from the paternity list, the Twins announced they will option shortstops Danny Santana and Jorge Polanco to Triple-A and Double-A, respectively, after Friday's 6-1 loss to the Mariners.
Santana, who has started a bulk of the games for the Twins at shortstop this season, has been struggling at the plate and has 16 errors. Polanco was called up with Plouffe out and made two starts. He was at Triple-A before his most recent callup, hitting .284 in 22 games there, but he will go down a level.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Like so many of his teammates in so many times this year, Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks was quick to credit Torii Hunter when asked about his own success. Hunter has been a mentor to him, helping him game plan and answering his questions.
"I work with Torii every day," Hicks said. "I'm constantly in his ear."
MINNEAPOLIS -- Eddie Rosario and Aaron Hicks combined for six hits, five runs and four RBIs to help the Twins snap a four-game losing streak with a 9-5 win over the Mariners on Thursday night at Target Field.
Rosario fell a single short of the cycle, as he was robbed of a hit in the eighth on a leaping catch from Mariners shortstop Brad Miller, but still had three hits, including a three-run blast as part of a five-run first inning. Hicks registered his fifth straight multi-hit game by going 3-for-4 with a solo homer and a walk, and is hitting .365 over his last 22 games since coming off the disabled list.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins got encouraging news pregame Thursday on their top prospect, Byron Buxton, who is inching closer to his return from injury. And just a few hours later, they got more promising glimpses of their future, as they were led by a team of youngsters in their 9-5 victory over the Mariners.
Perhaps none were more impactful than left fielder Eddie Rosario, who was just a single away from the cycle after homering in the first, doubling in the third and tripling in the fifth.
Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Kepler shows off power, Gonsalves doesn't allow a hit for Miracle
Twins No. 7 prospect rips 2 homers, No. 10 prospect doesn't allow a hit in 5 frames
By Alex M. Smith
After getting a bump in the revised Top 30 Prospect Rankings, Max Kepler is in a groove for Double-A Chattanooga.
The outfielder followed a homer on Wednesday night with two homers on Thursday as the Lookouts took down Pensacola, 3-0. Kepler -- Minnesota's No. 7 prospect -- finished 3-for-4 with the two jacks and two RBIs, pushing his hitting streak to seven and his season line to .337/.418/.553. He's gone yard six times this year and has collected 25 doubles, nine triples, 46 RBIs and 13 stolen bases.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Andrew McCutchen had three RBIs, including a two-run homer, to back left-hander Francisco Liriano against his former team in a 10-4 win for the Pirates over the Twins on Wednesday afternoon at Target Field.
McCutchen came up big for Pittsburgh, crushing a game-tying two-run blast in the fifth before coming through with another big hit as part of a five-run sixth. With two runners on, McCutchen smacked a liner to right that Eddie Rosario couldn't handle, and he ended up scoring on the play due to interference from third baseman Eduardo Nunez.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Harmon Killebrew has been honored with numerous accolades after his illustrious playing career -- including being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984 and the Minnesota Twins' Hall of Fame in 2000 -- but he could see his likeness on a U.S. postage stamp.
Killebrew, who died in 2011 after a battle with esophageal cancer, has been nominated to be featured on a commemorative postage stamp. Fans can sign the petition urging the United States Postal Service's Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee to select Killebrew. A Twitter account (@HarmonUSStamp) has also been created. The goal is to try to get 1,000 signatures on the petition.
MINNEAPOLIS -- After smacking a hit to right field, Miguel Sano rounded second, overrunning the base by just a couple of steps. He was tagged out, ending a mistake-filled game in a fitting way as the Twins fell to the Pirates, 10-4, on Wednesday afternoon at Target Field.