Miguel Sano is returning just in time for the Minnesota Twins, who conclude their four-game series against the visiting Texas Rangers on Thursday afternoon.
Sano returned from the injured list Wednesday after missing the previous 13 games with a right-hamstring strain and went 1-for-3 with a walk in the Twins’ 3-1 loss.
Minnesota is hoping for a spark from the veteran first baseman, especially after rookie Alex Kirilloff landed on the injured list Wednesday with a right-wrist sprain. Kirilloff was on a seven-game hitting streak with three doubles, four homers and 11 RBI before suffering the injury.
Sano is 6-for-48 with two home runs and four RBIs in 16 games this season, but he’s been known as a streaky hitter who can heat up just as quickly as he cools off.
“You almost wish it was a little more steady and he didn’t have to deal with it, either,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Not just the production but, you know, being a player and having to ride those waves is not the easiest thing to do. But he handles things actually pretty well — even through the good times and the bad.”
The Rangers have won six of their last nine games and look to build on their momentum behind Jordan Lyles (1-2, 7.39 ERA), who is 0-1 with a 16.20 ERA in his last two starts after going 1-1 with a 4.64 mark in his first four outings of the season.
The 30-year-old right-hander gave up five runs over four innings and received a no-decision against the Boston Red Sox last Saturday.
Nelson Cruz is 4-for-13 with a home run against Lyles, who is facing Minnesota for the first time since Sept. 4, 2013, as a member of the Baltimore Orioles.
Twins right-hander Michael Pineda (2-1, 2.30) was scheduled to start Wednesday’s contest but was pushed back a day due to inflammation in his right wrist.
The 32-year-old was hit in the wrist by a comebacker against Kansas City last Friday, when he allowed one run on three hits over five innings in a 9-1 victory.
Pineda is 2-4 with a 5.09 ERA in eight career starts against the Rangers, including 2-0 with a 3.27 mark in two outings in 2019.
The Texas bullpen has been sharp with both Joely Rodriguez and Ian Kennedy pitching scoreless innings in consecutive games. With both likely unavailable for the series finale, manager Chris Woodward mentioned Josh Sborz, Brett de Geus and Brett Martin could be used in a save opportunity.
Rangers right fielder Joey Gallo is batting .194 over his last 18 games, but he has two homers in his last nine games after hitting just one in his first 22.
Woodward said he believes a Gallo power surge is in the forecast.
“I think he’s gonna hit some moon balls like he normally does. I really do,” Woodward said. “I think it’s just a matter of time, honestly. I think instead of maybe popping it up at times, he’ll launch it into the 18th row. They’re coming.”
Texas should also receive a power boost soon from designated hitter Khris Davis, who could make his season debut this weekend. Davis, who was acquired from Oakland during the offseason, suffered a left-quadriceps strain in late March but has been playing at the Rangers’ alternate training site.
–Field Level Media