Julien appears headed to Saints to make room for Lewis

HOUSTON – The Twins announced no roster moves Sunday and declined to confirm that Royce Lewis will return to the team Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. But it sure looked as if they made an exception to that policy for Edouard Julien.

The 25-year-old second baseman, mired in a 5-for-40 slump since May 16, was summoned to manager Rocco Baldelli's office after the Twins' 4-3 victory over the Astros. He later emerged and accepted hugs from teammates, apparently having been informed that he will be optioned back to Class AAA St. Paul to make room for Lewis.

Baldelli also did not confirm the decision, and Julien did not speak with reporters. But the manager said there is no obvious way to make room on the 26-man roster for Lewis.

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"The vast majority of times when a roster decision is coming, by the day it arrives, there's a pretty straightforward decision that makes the most sense. … Sometimes, there is no right call or good call," Baldelli said. "You have to make the best call in a challenging scenario."

Julien, hitting just .207 this season after a brilliant rookie year in 2023, is hardly the only underperforming Twins player, but as an infielder who can be optioned rather than cut, it seems the Twins chose to give him a chance to turn his season around against Class AAA pitching.

Pitching on hometown mound

Simeon Woods Richardson grew up in the suburbs of Houston, about 20 miles from Minute Maid Park, where he spent many summer afternoons cheering for the Astros.

"When you watch it [as] a kid, watching those guys come up and play, you're trying to be like them," the Sugar Land, Texas, native said. "You see how they throw across the diamond, see how they run, see how they take ground balls."

And on Sunday, he got to see what it's like to pitch to them.

With a crowd of friends and relatives numbering more than four dozen in the stands, Woods Richardson pitched 4⅓ innings on his hometown mound, striking out six and giving up only three hits — though two were home runs, accounting for all three of the Astros' runs.

"It was a little different. I took a couple of deep breaths," the righthander said. "I locked in with RJ [catcher Ryan Jeffers]. Yeah, you're at home, but you're still playing. You've still got to execute."

He mostly did, save for the blast to center field by Astros catcher Victor Caratini on an 0-and-2 changeup, a home run that occurred as Woods Richardson's parents were being interviewed by Roku, which broadcast the game. And in the third inning, Kyle Tucker led off with a single and Alex Bregman punched a curveball into the Crawford Boxes in left field.

"I felt like I fell behind a couple times, but I was trying to execute, trying to pound the zone as best I could," he said. "Once you step on the field, it's your competitive nature. I can flip the switch easy. It's a hard thing [going from] being a fan to being a part of it, but once you're competing, it's a different ballgame."

Overcoming blasts

Twins starting pitchers have allowed 12 home runs over the past five days, yet the team won three of the games. It's the most home runs allowed during one trip through the Twins rotation since Sept. 14-18, 2008, when Nick Blackburn gave up four and Kevin Slowey, Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker and Glen Perkins surrendered two apiece.

"We want to attack hitters. There are a lot of points in the game where it's better to attack than to throw the ball outside the zone," Baldelli said. "Sometimes you're going to deal with a few homers."

Saints clobber Red Wings

The St. Paul Saints finished a 13-game road trip with an 8-1 defeat of Rochester thanks to a gutsy start from Randy Dobnak, who went six innings allowing one run on three hits while walking three, and Matt Wallner, who contributed a two-run homer and RBI double to go along with a run of his own. Lewis went 1-for-4 with a single in his sixth rehab game.