X-rays negative on Miguel Sano's left leg after 5-2 loss
HOUSTON — Already mired in a lengthy batting slump, Twins third baseman Miguel Sano saw his season go from bad to potentially horrific with one awkward slide into second base.
A motorized cart was summoned to remove Sano from the field Tuesday night after he suffered a lower left leg bruise on a wild pitch by Justin Verlander in the second inning. Sano extended his right leg on a hard, late slide but it was his surgically repaired left leg, tucked underneath his full body weight, that screamed at him after the play.
X-rays were negative, the Twins announced during the 5-2 loss to the Houston Astros, after Sano left the field in seemingly good spirits, waving to the crowd at Minute Maid Park and acknowledging its applause. He was given crutches as a precaution, and no further tests were scheduled.
"That's a lot of mass and it hits the ground and there's impact and his leg bent a little funny," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We just were careful to make sure. I said, 'Get the cart. Let's not mess around here, just in case we got something major going on.' "
Sano, who was receiving treatment after the game and was unavailable for comment, had an 18-inch titanium rod implanted in his lower left leg last November after suffering a stress reaction on a foul ball in August. He rolled over several times and was writhing in pain after Tuesday's slide, receiving attention for several minutes from head athletic trainer Tony Leo as Molitor looked on with great concern.
"His first real impact to the area that was worked on, and he was in a lot of pain," Molitor said. "Kind of radiated down all the way through his ankle. I'm sure there was some stress, whether he had the rod in there or not. I'm speculating it might have concerned him knowing his pain was where that work was done."
Sano, who reached base with a one-out walk, is 4 for 46 (.087) with 19 strikeouts in his past 55 trips. He is batting .202 with 13 home runs and a .285 on-base percentage this season, which included a 44-day demotion to the minor leagues in order to improve his conditioning and overall approach.
Sano's injury overshadowed a successful homecoming for Kohl Stewart, a two-sport star at Houston's St. Pius X High School who was drafted fourth overall in 2013. Entering a 4-0 game in the second after Trevor May faltered as the Opener, Stewart worked five scoreless innings in the longest outing of his young career.
Nine of Stewart's 15 outs came on ground balls, and he added three strikeouts, including two in his final frame. The Tomball, Texas, resident worked around one-out singles in the second and fourth, and then stranded Alex Bregman (double) and Carlos Correa (walk) in the fifth.
Pitching at Minute Maid for just the second time, including a scouting showcase in high school, Stewart had a large contingent of friends and family in the stands.
"It was awesome," he said. "I could hear them when I came in from the bullpen, but once the game got going, it's so loud with the roof (closed) you can't hear a thing."
May, meanwhile, ran aground quickly in a 26-pitch first. A former starter who had served as the inaugural opener for Triple-A Rochester on July 22, he gave up a sharp single to George Springer on the first pitch of the game.
Bregman ripped a one-out RBI double off the wall in left, Tyler White added an RBI single and Yuli Gurriel clubbed a two-run homer to complete the uprising. Bregman added two more doubles to move past former Twin Eduardo Escobar for the big-league doubles lead (46-45).
Through two games, the Twins' have seen their Openers post a 27.00 earned-run average with two homers allowed. Their Primary pitchers have a 2.00 ERA in nine innings, including no earned runs the first two times through the order.
Justin Verlander (14-9) retired his final 13 batters after Robbie Grossman's RBI double with two down in the third. He improved to 19-9 all time against the Twins, including a 0.64 ERA in two starts since being traded to the Astros just over a year ago.
Ex-Twins reliever Ryan Pressly struck out the side in the eighth. He has yet to walk a batter in 16 appearances since the Twins dealt him for two prospects in late July.