June 2009


Twins-Royals postgame

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Bobby Keppel has impressed in two outings, during which he’s tossed 6.1 scoreless innings.

He got help in the sixth inning on Tuesday by a great play by Brendan Harris, who dived to his left to grab Jose Guillen’s grounder then flipped to Nick Punto at second for the inning-ending double play. Keppel then threw a scoreless seventh.

“He definitely throws what you call a power sinker,” Twins righthander Scott Baker said.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire likes what he sees.

“He’s throwing his sinker, lefties, righties, it doesn’t matter,” Gardenhire said. “He got in a couple jams but was able to get out of it.

“We’ve been looking for performances like that and, hopefully, we found something with this young man.”

Luis Ayala, whom Keppel replaced, was touted as a sinkerballer but his ground ball-to-fly ball numbers argued against that. He threw a sinker but it was junky and he frequently got under the pitch instead over the top – and it was spin to the plate, then spin out to the outfield.

By the way, the Twins are expected to release Ayala in a couple days. Twins GM Bill Smith tried to make a deal for Ayala but it hasn’t worked out. Pittsburgh was interested until the Pirates  made deals with the Yankees and Nationals.

Joe Crede has a seven game hitting streak.

Joe Mauer snapped a 0-for-9 skid with single in the sixth.

Twins-Royals: Twins nation is going strong

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Twins fans have been visible and audible throughout this road trip. And there’s been no let up here in Kansas City. Several thousand of then Twins fans are here for the series and are enjoying everything the city has to offer.

I ran into four determined Twins fans after Monday’s game at a watering hole in the Country Club Plaza – or they ran into me. They all had marks on their forearms. “Is that a brand or a tatoo?” I asked.

The answer: It was a tally.

These guys have been on the entire road trip and are tracking how many drinks they are consuming- using the traditional four lines and a slash for every five drinks. Their arms looked like coding from The Matrix. Yes, they wash it off at the end of the day but mark themselves up the next morning and continue their imbibing.

I promised I would post their leaderboard, so here are their totals through Monday night (I’m trying to read this man’s handwriting, so bear with me):

Nick Mathewson:  174
Brendan McGabbon: 165
Thrill Shakken: 164
Sam Lehman: 162

Wow. It must be nice be young.

If you know any of these men, make sure they get plenty of rest when they return to the Twin Cities.

Joe Crede is back in the lineup and said he feels great. He knows he’s got listen to what his back is telling him, and yesterday it told him to rest.

Class AAA Rochester coach Riccardo Ingram has left the team to take care of a medical issue and is out indefinitely. Rico is a swell guy and I hope he recovers well. Rich Miller is coming up from Class A Beloit to replace Ingram. The Twins have hired former player Chris Heintz to replace Miller at Beloit.

Heard from a scout that Detroit pitcher Rick Porcello hit 90 mph on the gun just once last night. He threw from 87-89 and his sinker was flat, which is why he gave up five runs on nine hits and two walks over 4.1 innings against Oakland. This is noteworthy because Porcello is scheduled to start against the Twins on Sunday at the Dome.

The matchups: Friday: Kevin Slowey against LHP Luke French. Saturday: Francisco Liriano vs Edwin Jackson. Sunday: Nick Blackburn vs Porcello.

Oh, the lineups!

Twins (39-39)

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

Pitching: Scott Baker

Royals (33-42)

1. David DeJesus, LF
2. Willie Bloomquist, RF
3. Billy Butler, 1B
4. Mike Jacobs, DH
5. Mark Teahen, 3B
6. Alberto Callaspo, 2B
7. Miguel Olivo, C
8. Mitch Maier, CF
9. Tony Pena, Jr. SS

Pitching: Brian Bannister 

Twins-Royals: Joe Crede scratched from lineup

Monday, June 29th, 2009

So much for the Twins being at full strength.

Joe Crede has just been scratched from the lineup with a stiff lower back. The Twins said the move was made as a precausion.

Brian Buscher will play third and bat seventh in place of Crede.

Back to our program…. 

Sorry this is late. I chatted up the coaching staff for a long time before the game, trying to solve baseball’s problems. Then I ran into a couple scouts in the pressbox. The White Sox scout is here doing advance work for their series at the Dome, and I know him fairly well.

With the help of the talented Twins PR maven Dustin Morse, we have concluded that this is the most important game in the history of the franchise.

It started when we were trying to figure out the last time manager Ron Gardenhire had his best 25 players healthy. Denard Span was out from June 9 until last Thursday. By then, Nick Punto was battling sore ribs. Going back further, Alexi Casilla was up.

Over the last month, the Twins have had to make to deal with Casilla and Jesse Crain demoted, Punto, Span and Glen Perkins on the DL and Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Joe Crede needing days off for various problems. This was written before Joe Crede was scratched from today’s lineup.

Despite all of this, the Twins are 14-11 this month. “A win today ensures a winning month,” Morse said.

“And a winning road trip,” I added.

Then we both remembered that the Twins have never been two games over .500. And they are 39-38 going into tonight’s game.

A winning June. A winning trip. The high water mark for the season. So much on the line. The tension is building!

O.K., I’m hamming it up. But a win tonight would mean a lot.

Punto is back in the lineup, but Gardenhire warned that if he has any problems, he’s headed for the disabled list.

Lineups

Twins (39-38)

1. Denard Span, CF
2. Brendan Harris, SS
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Jason Kubel, DH
6. Michael Cuddyer, RF
7. Joe Crede  Brian Buscher, 3B
8. Delmon Young, LF
9. Nick Punto, 2B

Nick Blackburn, RHP

Royals (32-42)

1. David DeJesus, LF
2. Willie Bloomquist, RF
3. Billy Butler, 1B
4. Mike Jacobs, DH
5. Mark Teahen, 3B
6. Alberto Callaspo, 2B
7. Miguel Olivo, C
8. Mitch Maier, CF
9. Tony Pena, Jr., SS

Luke Hochevar, RHP

Twins go for third straight road series win against The Fighting DeRosas

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

Haven’t seen St. Louis’ lineup but heard that newcomer Mark DeRosa is batting cleanup and playing left.

I’m wound up over the little spat between the Twins’ Michael Cuddyer and Cardinals’ Yadier Molina yesterday. Cuddyer could have cleaned Molina’s clock on the play at the plate but decided just to make sure there’s no tag on him and throw to first to get Mike Redmond. So Cuddyer slid into home plate.

Now….Molina is wearing all the gear. He has his catcher’s mask on. He even dropped a forearm on Cuddyer as he slid in (there on marks on Cuddyer to prove it). Cuddyer’s head bangs off the ground. And Molina still complains to Cuddyer about sliding into his knees?

Cuddyer should have told Molina to stuff it – but I think the home plate umpire jumped in to make sure the talk never got to that point.

Even Cards manager Tony LaRussa said after the game that the Twins don’t play dirty.

I had calmed down until about an hour ago, when I asked Gardenhire the following question:

Me: “No Cuddyer at second today?”

Gardenhire: “You want him to be a dart board?”

The manager is concerned that someone with the Cardinals might want to support their teammate with a hard slide into Cuddyer during today’s game. LaRussa is the biggest retaliator in the history of the game (does anyone pitch inside to Albert Pujols?). I still would have given Cuddyer a shot. I remember a few years ago when Eric Munson tried to take Cuddyer out on a double play ball and ended up in the trainer’s room.

Anyway…

This is a big outing for Liriano. The Twins need to win this series. And he needs to stay in the rotation…. 

Lineups

Twins (38-38)

1. Denard Span, CF
2. Brendan Harris, SS
3, Joe Mauer, C
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5 Jason Kubel, LF
6. Michael Cuddyer, RF
7. Joe Crede, 3B
8. Matt Tolbert, 2B
9. Francisco Liriano, LHP

Cardinals (41-35)

1. Skip Schumaker, 2B
2. Khalil Greene, 3B
3. Albert Pujols, 1B
4. Mark DeRosa, LF
5. Ryan Ludwick, RF
6. Rick Ankiel, CF
7. Jason LaRue, C
8. Joel Pineiro, RHP
9. Tyler Greene, SS

Twins-Cardinals: It’s hot. Mauer is not in the lineup. Ron Coomer makes a prediction

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

I flew in yesterday and was driving in from Lambert Airport when I switched on the radio to some sports show called, `The Men’s Room.’

The host talked about how he compared the careers of Chris Carpenter and Johan Santana, who squared off against each other the night before. On Friday, he decided to compare the Cardinals’ Yadier Molina and the Twins’ Joe Mauer – the two Gold Glove winners from last season.

So I’m listening to this, and the host is reeling off career stats. Mauer has Molina beat across the board and blows him away in doubles, walks, batting average, etc.

The host then concludes, “Mauer gets the nod here.”

Ya think?

He later adds, “I’d take either one of them but the edge goes to Mauer.”

It ain’t just an edge, buddy.

I’m impressed with Busch Stadium. Love the color scheme. Twins players like how the clubhouse is laid out. The pressbox stinks. It’s at the top of the stadium and it’s a journey to get to the clubhouse. I was told the original plan was to put the pressbox behind the right field wall. Right Field. Someone, fortunately, stepped in and stopped that.

The first year the park opened, there were no windows installed. The heat was oppressive during the summer. Then the Cardinals reached the World Series and it was freezing. There was a rain storm that blew water on a bunch of laptops and ruined them. Some of the insulation was visible. The league was ticked off and ordered the Cardinals to make adjustments.

But that’s not my main beef – believe it or not. The railing in front of the first row on most levels is too short. When fans are seated, their knees are almost even with the top of the railing. Not safe. If someone stumbles, jumps out of their seat to cheer or catch a ball – or has their .15 on - it could get ugly.

And it did on Friday, when a fan fell out of the top level of Busch Stadium and onto the level below him – during the national anthem. He was a bloody mess. The female with him was blubbering. I guess other than cuts and bruises, he was fine. But they need to look at these railings again.

Getting back to this right field thing. Other pro sports are moving the press areas out of the areas where they can make money. Soldier Field has its pressbox in the corner of the stadium. I’ve heard the pressbox at FedEx Field in Washington is in the end zone. NBA teams are moving some media off of midcourt.

The Twins, while designing Target Field, asked for our input on how the pressbox should be designed. It will be located on the club level, a little bit toward first base but that’s no big deal.  There will be places to store our bags so they won’t be in the way. They’ll hold an elevator for us after games. And they have taken us twice on tours of the construction site.

I can’t thank club president Dave St. Peter, GM Bill Smith, the baseball communications department and other members of the organization enough for allowing us to have some input. After sitting in the St. Louis pressbox and hearing the stories, I appreciate what the Twins have done for its media even more.

I’ll post the lineups and updates when they become available.

Update

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire hinted before the game that Nick Punto has a couple more days to prove he’s healthy or he will land on the disabled list. Start your Steven Tolleson speculation now.

Joe Mauer is getting the day off. Day game after night game thing. Mike Redmond will start to today. When asked about starting Jose Morales, Gardenhire admitted that it’s a sensitive situation and that Redmond remains his No. 2 catcher. He said Morales will enter the game if (when?) Redmond wilts from the heat or of he needs a pinch runner late in the game. Gardy said he’s not adverse to putting Morales behind the plate, but Redmond is his No. 2.

I think the offseason will solve this problem.  Morales is a better hitter and deserves to play. And I write that with the utmost respect for what Redmond does with the pitchers and in the clubhouse.

Kevin Slowey’s last named is spelled, “Slowley” on the lineup sheet.

Just heard that yesterday’s accident was the second time this year a fan had tumbled out of one of the decks here. Here’s a link to a story about yesterday’s accident.

A woman already has succumbed to the heat here and has  been stretchered out. The high might hit 100 today.

FSN’s Ron Coomer on Justin Morneau, “he’s breaking out today,” Coomer said. Coomer pointed out that Morneau has gone to a no stride approach to keep himself balanced and hit the ball hard yesterday.

Lineups

Twins (38-37)

1. Denard Span, CF
2. Brendan Harris, 2B
3. Justin Morneau, 1B
4. Jason Kubel, LF
5. Michael Cuddyer, RF
6. Joe Crede, RF
7. Mike Redmond, C
8. Matt Tolbert. 2B
9. Kevin Slowey, RHP

Cardinals (40-35)

1. Skip Schumaker, 2B
2. Colby Rasmus, CF
3. Albert Pujols, 1B
4. Chris Duncan, LF
5. Yadier Molina, C
6. Rick Ankiel, RF
7. Tyler Greene, SS
8. Todd Wellemeyer, RHP
9. Joe Thurston, 3B