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Seeking aggressiveness, Twins 'pen set for G3

Arraez not bothered by ankle sprain; Baldelli could tweak lineup
@RhettBollinger
October 7, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- After walking 16 batters in 16 innings against the Yankees through the first two games of the American League Division Series, the Twins know they need to be much more aggressive attacking the strike zone as they face an 0-2 deficit entering Game 3 at Target Field on

MINNEAPOLIS -- After walking 16 batters in 16 innings against the Yankees through the first two games of the American League Division Series, the Twins know they need to be much more aggressive attacking the strike zone as they face an 0-2 deficit entering Game 3 at Target Field on Monday.

The Twins held an informal workout at Target Field on Sunday with manager Rocco Baldelli describing it as “extremely optional,” but pitchers threw and got their work in to prepare for Monday. Reliever Trevor May said the club’s pitchers remain confident despite allowing a combined 18 runs in the two losses, but that they need to go back to the mentality that got them to the postseason.

"There has to be a point where our aggressiveness in the zone that we've had all year has to be there,” May said. “It's one of those things like you've got to go out and attack them. If they hit eight home runs in a game, they probably deserve to win that game. So you have to make them earn it and not just create chances for them and give them opportunities to take advantage of those chances. You just keep them out of those chances from the beginning."

Game Date Result Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 4 NYY 10, MIN 4 Watch
Gm 2 Oct. 5 NYY 8, MIN 2 Watch
Gm 3 Oct. 7 NYY 5, MIN 1 Watch

May said he talked with fellow reliever Zack Littell, who admitted that the crowd was a factor in Friday's Game 1 when he walked the only two batters he faced in the fifth inning and both later scored on a double from Gleyber Torres off Tyler Duffey. But Littell retired the only batter he faced in Saturday's Game 2, and May believes the experience will only help the Twins going forward.

“I said, 'Well, the good news is it's never going to be louder than that for you,'” May said. “You can pitch in the World Series, and it's never going to be louder than that. You already experienced it. And it was really important for him to get in the next day, and he went in and threw three strikes and got an out. He said, ‘Wow, I can do that.’ And that was big for him and it was just kind of understated because of how it was going when he was pitching. But if he gets another opportunity [Monday], you're going to see a much different Zack Littell. And we were just kind of firing back.”

Pitching coach Wes Johnson had a similar sentiment and was also pleased to see Cody Stashak get two outs on Saturday after giving up two runs on Friday.

"You have to coach them up,” Johnson said. “Cody Stashak started the year at Double-A and Zack Littell started as a starter until we converted them. So you don't know how they’re going to act. You have to tip your hat to the Yankees' fans, it's a real environment. But you have to coach them back up and get them back out there and remind them how good they are."

Arraez says ankle is fine

Luis Arraez started at second base against the Yankees on Friday and Saturday despite sustaining a Grade 1 right ankle sprain in Kansas City on Sept. 28. Arraez, who hit .334/.399/.439 in 92 games as a rookie this season, has gone 3-for-7 with three doubles in the ALDS.

"I feel good overall," Arraez said through an interpreter. "I didn't feel anything bothering me when I was going down the line."

Arraez, 22, said he wasn’t affected by the crowd at Yankee Stadium because of his experience playing in front of festive atmospheres in his native Venezuela.

“More excited than nervous,” Arraez said. “I wasn't nervous at all. I'll compare it to something like playing in Venezuela. I think playing winter ball in Venezuela is a little more difficult than playing here when it comes to fans and playing in that environment, too.”

Baldelli said the Twins considered playing Jonathan Schoop at second base but that Arraez’s offensive potential was too much to pass up.

“The one thing we were comparing it against is Luis Arraez's at-bats are just very different and cause pitchers to have to pitch in a very different fashion to get him out,” Baldelli said. “We've seen him give fits to right-handers, left-handers alike all year long. We've opted to go with Luis and watch him do his thing. I don't regret any decisions in any way, but I know that Schoopy is also a quality option that we can turn to at any point.”

Twins could shake up lineup
Baldelli wouldn’t announce his lineup on Sunday for Game 3, but he hinted that there could be a few changes in the batting order after the Twins struggled offensively in New York. But Baldelli didn’t sound like anything drastic was coming for Game 3.

“Just in general terms, we stick with what we know and what we've done. Could there be some movement? Possibly,” Baldelli said. “We'll wait until [Monday] to reveal our lineup and what we're going to do. We haven't been overly reactionary all year.”

Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.