July 2009

Twins postgame: Cuddyer has strained lower back

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Twins right fielder Michael Cuddyer left tonight’s game in the 11th inning with a strained lower back but downplayed the injury.

“I’ll be fine, it just tightened up,” he said. “It was sore during the game and got tighter and tighter. If we would have only played nine innings, I would have been fine. … It’s not going to be a lasting thing.”

Still, the Twins waited to announce their corresponding roster move that will make room for Orlando Cabrera on their 25-man roster. They were expected to send either Brian Buscher or Alexi Casilla to Class AAA Rochester.

It appeared teammates were saying their goodbyes to Buscher, but if Cuddyer is banged up, the Twins would be limited in first base options behind Justin Morneau.

(*) Matt Guerrier had not given up a run since June 25.
(*) The Twins fell to 4-7 in extra-inning games.
(*) Justin Morneau went 0-for-5 for the fourth time this season.
(*) Three of Joe Mauer’s 18 home runs have come against the Angels.
(*) Attendance was 31,767. Twins have now drawn 30,000+ in six straight home games and 15 of their past 18.

Friday pregame: Twins finished after one deadline deal

Friday, July 31st, 2009

The Twins reached the non-waiver trade deadline with one move, acquiring shortstop Orlando Cabrera from Oakland for Class-A infielder Tyler Ladendorf, a second-round pick from the 2008 draft.

The Twins worked feverishly up until the deadline, trying to obtain relievers including the Padres’ Heath Bell, the Athletics’ Michael Wuertz and the Diamondbacks’ Jon Rauch.

Cabrera was scheduled to fly from the Bay Area to Minnesota today, but we’re hearing the Twins don’t expect to make a corresponding roster move until Saturday. They’ll likely send Alexi Casilla to Class AAA Rochester, barring an injury tonight.

The Angels’ beat writers and broadcasters are raving about Cabrera, who played for the Angels from 2005 to 2007. There are plenty of statistical arguments to be made, but they were talking intangibles: plays hard, plays smart, good baserunner, etc.

Updates to come…

Update: The Twins will announce their roster move after the game. Asked if Brendan Harris will see more time at 2B, Gardenhire said no, he’ll move around.

Gardenhire said he wasn’t sure if Cabrera will be the No. 2 hitter, and also wouldn’t commit to making Nick Punto the everyday second baseman.

In a word, Joe Nathan, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau’s reaction to the Cabrera move was measured. They’re glad to have him but said this will have to play out before they know how good of a move it was. More on all of this for first editions.

ANGELS (60-40)

1. Chone Figgins, 3B
2. Maicer Izturis, 2B
3. Bobby Abreu, RF
4. Juan Rivera, DH
5. Kendry Morales, 1B
6. Mike Napoli, C
7. Erick Aybar, SS
8. Gary Matthews Jr., CF
9. Reggie Willits, LF

Starting pitcher: RH Ervin Santana (3-6, 7.29 ERA)

TWINS (52-50)

1. Denard Span, LF
2. Joe Mauer, C
3. Justin Morneau, 1B
4. Jason Kubel, DH
5. Michael Cuddyer, RF
6. Joe Crede, 3B
7. Carlos Gomez, CF
8. Nick Punto, SS
9. Alexi Casilla, 2B

Starting pitcher: RH Nick Blackburn (8-5, 3.75 ERA)

Metrodome. First pitch: 7:10 p.m. TV: FSN

Postgame: Buehrle’s remarkable wave crashes into defeat

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Stroll through any big league clubhouse before a game, and players are usually watching video of the opposing pitcher’s previous start. But the Twins took a different approach Tuesday, choosing not to watch replays of Mark Buehrle against Tampa Bay last Thursday, when he tossed the 18th perfect game in big league history.

After all, they had seen plenty of Buehrle over the years. This was his 39th career start against Minnesota. Matter of fact, before this one, the Twins were watching replays of July 12, when they thumped Buehrle for eight runs in 3 1/3 innings.

Granted, the Twins still felt like they had lived through Buehrle’s perfecto.

“I saw the same thing the whole world saw,” Denard Span said. “Seemed like they showed every out on SportsCenter for two or three days.”

But Tuesday?

“Nah, I didn’t look at that,” Span said. “I went up there and swung at the first pitch. I don’t ever do that. I was trying to get the perfect game out of the way.”

This went on for 5 2/3 innings. I’ve never seen a no-hitter in person before, and here I was, dusting up on my Johnny Vander Meer history.

When Buehrle missed low with his 3-2 change-up to Casilla, with two outs in the sixth inning, everything changed. After retiring 45 consecutive batters — a record-breaking streak dating to July 18 against Baltimore — Buehrle let seven of nine reach base.

Span said the key was forcing the lefthander to finally switch from the windup to the stretch position.

“He was making us look foolish, to be honest,” Span said. “Nobody came close to hitting the ball on the barrell. … I saw the ball a lot better when he was in the stretch as opposed to in the windup.”

Span hit a soft liner to center, ending Buehrle’s no-hit bid. Then Joe Mauer hit his run-scoring double to left field — a tailing fly that Scott Podsednik probably should have caught.

That tied the score, and the Twins added four runs in the seventh. It looked like Joe Crede and Michael Cuddyer executed a hit-and-run play that inning, but Cuddyer actually didn’t break early. Second baseman Chris Getz left his position for no apparent reason. Nick Punto’s slicing liner to right field made it 4-1.

No wonder Buehrle was in no mood to dwell on his new record.

“It might mean more tomorrow or the next day, once I cool off,” he said.

In the end, it was just another Twins rally against the White Sox, who are 3-12 in their past 15 games at the Metrodome.

“It’s probably the most fired up I’ve been after a game,” Buehrle said. “I’m not a big fan of broken-bat bloop singles. It just seems that every time in this place, you know it’s going to happen. So its frustrating.”

It’s amazing the Twins could make Buehrle feel that way after riding that historic wave.

Note: After the game, the White Sox announced that Bartolo Colon has been scratched from Wednesday’s start with a sore elbow. Jose Contreras, who last pitched Friday, will make the start for Chicago, opposite lefthander Francisco Liriano. La Velle has our coverage so check his blog for the starting lineups.

Tuesday lineups: Twins/White Sox

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Joe Crede is back in the lineup at designated hitter, as the Twins get ready to face Mark Buehrle, in his first start since throwing a perfect game.

Updates to come…

Update: Manager Ron Gardenhire has the flu and was unable to meet with the media before the game. Third base coach Scott Ullger said Gardy hopes to be on the bench for the game.

(*) Ullger said the Twins hope Crede can return to third base on Wednesday, depending on how he feels tonight.

(*) White Sox slugger Jim Thome is out with a sore back, and he likely won’t play Wednesday either, with the Twins throwing lefthander Francisco Liriano.

(*) The Twins plan to have Mark Grudzielanek join Class AA New Britain in time for Friday’s game, GM Bill Smith said. Grudzielanek went 1-for-3 today and played second base in a Gulf Coast League game.

Update: Gardy is on the bench. And the Twins unveiled their All-Metrodome Team:

The Twins unveiled their All-Metrodome team before Tuesday’s game.

Manager: Tom Kelly
Starting pitchers: Bert Blyleven, Brad Radke, Johan Santana, Frank Viola
Relievers: Rick Aguilera, Joe Nathan
Catcher: Joe Mauer
First base: Kent Hrbek and Justin Morneau
Second base: Chuck Knoblauch
Shortstop: Greg Gagne
Third base: Gary Gaetti
Outfielders: Tom Brunansky, Dan Gladden, Torii Hunter, Kirby Puckett.
DH: Paul Molitor

WHITE SOX (51-49)

1. Scott Podsednik, LF
2. Alexei Ramirez, SS
3. Jermaine Dye, RF
4. Paul Konerko, 1B
5. A.J. Pierzynski, C
6. Carlos Quentin, DH
7. Chris Getz, 2B
8. Gordon Beckham, 3B
9. DeWayne Wise, CF

Starting pitcher: LH Mark Buehrle (11-3, 3.28 ERA)

TWINS (50-50)

1. Denard Span, LF
2. Joe Mauer, C
3. Justin Morneau, 1B
4. Michael Cuddyer, RF
5. Joe Crede, DH
6. Brendan Harris, 3B
7. Carlos Gomez, CF
8. Nick Punto, SS
9. Alexi Casilla, 2B

Starting pitcher: Scott Baker (8-7, 5.04 ERA)

Metrodome. First pitch: 7:10 p.m. TV: FSN

Postgame update: Nathan, Span, Perkins, Valencia

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Joe Nathan needed six pitches to get through the ninth inning. A.J. Pierzynski and Carlos Quentin both swung at the first pitch. Denard Span said Quentin’s ball wouldn’t have cleared the fence, but what a catch.

(*) Glen Perkins quelled concerns about his left shoulder and his toughness, holding the White Sox to three runs over seven innings.

“I think that was a little monkey that I had to get off my back,” Perkins said. “Coming in against these guys, this is a team we have to beat. I think I needed to prove to myself and prove to my team that I can get the job done, so it was definitely a little extra motivation, and I don’t think that will let up from here on out.”

(*) Heard today that Oakland has asked for Class AAA Rochester 3B Danny Valencia in return for SS Orlando Cabrera. Twins would never do that, but it was a reminder that Valencia’s name probably comes up frequently in trade talks. Valencia didn’t play for Rochester tonight, making me suspicious, but I checked and Valencia was sick after going 0-for-6 on Sunday.

(*) Lots more Twins news in the game story, sider and notes.