September 2008

Cuddyer starting at DH for Twins against White Sox

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

CHICAGO — Michael Cuddyer gets a start at designated hitter tonight, with Jason Kubel available off the bench.

Cuddyer is 7-for-12 (.583) for his career off tonight’s White Sox starter, lefthander John Danks, while Kubel is 3-for-7 (.429).

(*) Manager Ron Gardenhire said he’ll be ready to go to the bullpen early to help rookie starter Nick Blackburn if need be.

(*) It’s all hands on deck, though Gardenhire said he won’t use Francisco Liriano tonight because this is his first season coming back from major elbow surgery. Liriano pitched Friday and would be working on three day’s rest.

(*) Gardenhire said Scott Baker would be available out of the bullpen. Normally, he would throw a side session today anyway.

(*) Kevin Slowey (bruised right wrist) will play catch again today, and the Twins will see how he feels before clearing him for a bullpen session Wednesday.

(*) I had a couple position typos written below earlier, apologies.

Update (6:40 p.m.): The White Sox announced a first-pitch temp of 56 degrees, with winds from the north/northwest at 11 mph. Not as blustery as some forecasts made it look.

(*) Glen Perkins is also in the bullpen wearing spikes. So he and Baker are both available for relief.

Twins (88-74)

1. Denard Span, RF
2. Alexi Casilla, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Michael Cuddyer, DH
6. Delmon Young, LF
7. Brendan Harris, 3B
8. Nick Punto, SS
9. Carlos Gomez, CF
Starting pitcher: Nick Blackburn (11-10, 4.14 ERA)

White Sox (88-74)

1. Orlando Cabrera, SS
2. Dewayne Wise, LF
3. Jermaine Dye, RF
4. Jim Thome, DH
5. Paul Konerko, 1B
6. Ken Griffey, Jr., CF
7. Alexei Ramirez, 2B
8. A.J. Pierzynski, C
9. Juan Uribe, 3B
Starting pitcher: John Danks (11-9, 3.47 ERA)

U.S. Cellular Field. First pitch: 6:37 p.m. (Televised on TBS)

The national spotlight shines on Twins and White Sox

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

CHICAGO — Beginning Wednesday, the MLB postseason will begin zooming by with three games on back-to-back days.

Some people like to play hookie on the first Thursday and Friday of the NCAA basketball tournament. For baseball junkies, like me, the first round of the playoffs feel a little like that.

In many ways, tonight is even more special. The Twins and White Sox will have the national spotlight all to themselves. Baseball fans from Alaska to the Florida Keys will have a window (on TBS) into one of the game’s most underrated rivalries.

(* FSN North is doing a Twins postgame show, as well.)

I have vivid memories of last year’s one-game playoff between the Padres and Rockies, and those teams don’t even hate each other like the Twins and White Sox do.

The Rockies were on their amazing run of 20 victories in 21 games. The Padres had just missed clinching a playoff spot, when Milwaukee’s Tony Gwynn Jr., of all people, played spoiler.

The game at Coors Field stretched 13 innings. San Diego scored two runs in the 13th to take the lead, but the Rockies stormed back with three runs against all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman. Did Matt Holliday touch home plate or not, as he slid chin-first? A question Padres fans had to chew on all winter.

Tonight will bring only the eighth one-game playoff in major league history. Our baseball editor, Dennis Brackin, put together a fun look at the previous eight called, “Paging Bucky Dent and Luis Sojo.”

So have fun watching tonight. As Souhan wrote, it’s like Game 7 without the six appetizers.

I’m predicting a high-scoring game. The wind will be blowing straight to center field, but the more I study it, the conditions don’t look like they’ll be quite as blustery as we thought during the game. (Temps in the high 50s, NW winds at 10-15 mph.)

Anyway, I’ll be back with the starting lineups and pregame notes in a few hours. Get ready. It should be a lot of fun.

White Sox vs. Tigers in Game 162

Monday, September 29th, 2008

CHICAGO — It’s raining here at U.S. Cellular Field. The game is being delayed and the forecast calls for thunderstorms through the afternoon, clearing during the early evening.

(*) Tigers 2B Placido Polanco is out with a sprained ankle, SS Edgar Renteria is out with a strained pectoral muscle, and 1B Carlos Guillen has been out with a bad back.

Gary Sheffield has 499 career home runs, and his uncle, Doc Gooden, is expected to be here to see Sheffield join the 500-club.

(*) If the White Sox win today, with Gavin Floyd pitching on three day’s rest, they’ll send John Danks to the mound against the Twins on Tuesday, also on three day’s rest.

“We’re looking forward to [playing the Twins],” Danks said. “I know we were embarrassed there [last week at the Metrodome]. This would be a chance to get back at them.”

Update (1:20 p.m.): I heard in the press box that they’re hopeful this game can start around 2 p.m. It’s stopped raining, but the tarp is on the field and the ground crew is nowhere in sight. Tells me they’re expecting more rain.

Update (3:25 p.m.): The White Sox announced an expected start time of 4 p.m. The ground crew is back squeegeeing, and it’s supposed to stop raining here shortly.

Tigers (74-87)

1. Curtis Granderson, CF
2. Gary Sheffield, DH
3. Magglio Ordonez, RF
4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
5. Marcus Thames, LF
6. Ryan Rayburn, 2B
7. Brandon Inge, 3B
8. Dusty Ryan, C
9. Ramon Santiago, SS

Starting pitcher: RH Freddy Garcia (1-1, 4.50)

White Sox (87-74)

1. Orlando Cabrera, SS
2. Dewayne Wise, LF
3. Jermaine Dye, RF
4. Jim Thome, DH
5. Paul Konerko, 1B
6. Ken Griffey Jr., CF
7. Alexei Ramirez, 2B
8. A.J. Pierzynski, C
9. Juan Uribe, 3B

Starting pitcher: RH Gavin Floyd (16-8, 3.91 ERA)

U.S. Cellular Field. First pitch: 4:09 p.m. (Rain delay lasted 3 hours, 4 minutes.)

Sunday postgame: Twins 6, Royals 0

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

A few quick postgame notes:

(*) The White Sox will play the Tigers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. The Twins will be watching from the Metrodome with their bags packed.

If the White Sox win, the Twins will board a flight for Chicago for a one-game playoff on Tuesday. The time for that game is TBA, but I’m guessing it’ll be a night game.

“We put ourselves in a good situation,” Nick Punto said. “It’s a do-or-die for [the White Sox], but for us, we’re either going to Chicago or Tampa. We’re definitely playing another game.”

(*) Nick Blackburn will start Tuesday’s game, if necessary.

(*) Joe Mauer’s 85 RBI (total corrected from earlier) are the most by any catcher in Twins history, and for now, he leads the AL with a .330 batting average. The stats from a one-game playoff against Chicago would count toward regular season numbers, however, so we don’t know if he’s won a second batting title yet.

(*) Souhan, La Velle and I will have much, much more for print editions, and if we hear any more news, we’ll keep you posted here.

UPDATE (8:15 p.m.): AP has listed Tuesday’s game as 6:37 p.m. The Twins just confirmed it.

Sunday pregame: Twins/Royals

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

The Twins clubhouse was typically loose this morning. If you didn’t know better, you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference from any other Sunday morning all season.

“We’ve had all kinds of ups and downs,” Manager Ron Gardenhire said. “This is pretty resilient group. I fully expect us to play a good baseball game. I’m not worried about them not showing up. We’ll show up.”

(*) Obviously the Twins need to get to the playoffs for this to matter, but Gardenhire said the training staff is confident Kevin Slowey (bruised right wrist) will be able to throw a bullpen session by Wednesday.

That’s important because the Twins need to know he’d be ready for Game 3 of the ALDS before placing him on the playoff roster. The playoff roster must be submitted one hour before Game 1.

For now, there’s still lots of swelling and Slowey’s range of motion is limited, so the swelling will have to subside.

Royals (75-86)

1. Mike Aviles, SS
2. Alberto Callaspo, 2B
3. Jose Guillen, RF
4. Ryan Shealy, 1B
5. Mark Teahen, LF
6. Alex Gordon, 3B
7. Kila Ka’aihue, DH
8. John Buck, C
9. Mitch Maier, CF

Starting pitcher: RH Brandon Duckworth (3-2, 5.06 ERA)

Twins (87-74)

1. Denard Span, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Jason Kubel, DH
6. Delmon Young, LF
7. Brendan Harris, 3B
8. Nick Punto, SS
9. Carlos Gomez, CF

Starting pitcher: RH Scott Baker (10-4, 3.59 ERA)

Metrodome. First pitch: 1:10 p.m.