Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.
Three quick leftovers, with tomorrow's day game only 13 hours away:
KEEP ME IN, COACH: Ron Gardenhire sent his pitching coach to the mound in the eighth inning to tell him to walk David Ortiz. He was surprised by the response.
"We were going to walk Ortiz, and we were going to go after Naps [Mike Napoli], but Phil said 'I'd just as soon take my chances and make David chase,' " Gardenhire said. "It shocked me when Andy came back in said he wants to pitch to him."
How'd that conversation go? "He said, 'I want this guy,' and I said, 'well, we've got a righty on deck,' " Anderson said. "But he said, 'No, I want this guy, I can get him. ... I love it. I love that attitude."
Napoli was 6-for-15 against Hughes, Ortiz 10-for-28. Still, "I really wanted to go after Ortiz," Hughes said, "and I really don't like walking guys either."
No kidding. Tuesday's loss was Hughes' third straight start without a walk, and ninth in his last 10 starts.
So Hughes went after Big Papi. Three pitches later, Ortiz reached for a cutter off the plate and flew out harmlessly to left.
SUZUKI HOT, ARCIA NOT: A couple of hitters are going in opposite directions near the bottom of the Twins' lineup. Kurt Suzuki singled in the fifth inning, giving him hits in nine of his last 10 games. He's batting .371 over that span, with two doubles.
Oswaldo Arcia, meanwhile, still can't get out of the spiral he's in. His 0-for-4 on Tuesday included two strikeouts. He's now 2-for-32 since June 6, with 15 whiffs.
INCONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE: The Twins got a break on a call that was inconclusive on replay. Dustin Pedroia hit what looked like a two-run homer in the eighth inning, but it bounced off the top of the Green Monster and back onto the field. Josh Willingham got the ball back into the infield quickly, and Pedroia was caught in a rundown. He avoided Brian Dozier's tag, but was called out for leaving the baseline. The Red Sox challenged, arguing that Pedroia's ball was touched by a fan, making it either a ground-rule double or a home run. Replays, however, could not establish whether the fan had made contact, and the play was allowed to stand.
BOSTON -- One roster mystery has been solved, but the solution merely prompts another.
Yohan Pino, whose 1.92 ERA in 14 appearances (seven starts) for Class AAA Rochester leads the International League, will be promoted in the Twins in time to start Thursday's game in Target Field against the White Sox. Pino, a 30-year-old Venezuelan righthander who will be making his major-league debut, takes the place of Samuel Deduno, who is being returned to the bullpen for now.
"He's been pitching fantastic, along with three or four other guys down there," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Throwing the ball very well, great ERA, the whole package. You could have had your choices down there and this is who [the front office] decided they want to give a shot to. We'll see how it goes. Exciting for him, first time in the big leagues. Pretty cool."
The Twins can move Mike Pelfrey to the 60-day disabled list in order to make room for Pino on the 40-man roster. Getting him on the 25-man active roster on Thursday will require another roster move, though -- and manager Ron Gardenhire offered no hints as to what that move might be.
Would they send Pedro Florimon back to Rochester? Gardenhire said he doesn't want to play with a short bench, as he is already while Eduardo Nunez tries to come back from a hamstring injury. Would they drop a reliever? The only relievers with ERAs above 4.00 are Jared Burton, who has pitched well in some critical situations lately, and Anthony Swarzak, a bullpen-saver who leads the Twins in relief innings pitched.
"A roster move will come accordingly on Thursday," Gardenhire said, "if everything goes according to plan."
The move didn't seem to come as a surprise to Deduno, who had given up 18 runs in 16 innings over his last four starts, a 10.13 ERA. "I'm a little disappointed a little bit because I wanted the ball again," said the Dominican righthander. "But I'm still happy because I'm still here. I want to make adjustments, because when I was in the bullpen I was doing well."
Meanwhile, the Twins face lefthander Jon Lester tonight, counting on their most effective pitcher, Phil Hughes, to break their three-game losing streak. The lineups:
Leftovers from a 1-0 game that still took 2 hours, 45 minutes:
ORTIZ IS HUMAN: David Ortiz started chatting with Kendrys Morales in center field before the game, and before long, Danny Santana and Oswaldo Arcia had drifted over, too. Ortiz held court for about 10 minutes, gesturing with gusto to make his points. But during the game, Ortiz was far less noticeable, going 0-for-3 with a pair of groundouts. He did smash a Kevin Correia pitch to the deepest part of the ballpark in the sixth inning, but Sam Fuld caught it with his back against the wall. Fuld smiled at the Twins' narrow escape, and Ortiz threw up his hands in disgust. Call it a major victory for the Twins, who were hammered by Ortiz -- 8 for 14, four home runs -- in three games last month in Target Field.
YOU HAVE VISITORS: With the Rock Cats enjoying an off day, New Britain manager Jeff Smith drove up to Boston to drop in on the Twins' coaching staff. And Kennys Vargas, the mammoth first baseman who already has bashed 12 home runs in Class AA this season, came to the ballpark as well, stopping by the Twins' clubhouse. The 23-year-old Vargas is batting .319 with a .528 slugging average, so it won't be long before he's actually dressing in that same clubhouse.
NO WALL BALL: Ron Gardenhire said after the game that "you don't get many of these 1-0 games here." He probably didn't know how right he was. Monday's loss was the 296th time the teams have met in Fenway Park -- and only the fifth time that the Twins have lost 1-0. The last one, the only one managed by Gardenhire, came in 2007. Minnesota, by the way, has won only two 1-0 games here, and none in the past 30 years. "Normally it's wall-ball here," Gardenhire said. "We kept wondering when someone was going to put up a five-spot and break it open."
BOSTON -- On a day when San Diego, as well as all of baseball, is in mourning, the Twins by coincidence are calling upon another son of San Diego to help stop their losing streak.
The news of Tony Gwynn's death hit a few Twins hard, particularly Paul Molitor, who got to know the eight-time batting champion during the off-season of their Hall of Fame careers. Molitor spent several winters in San Diego, and got to know Gwynn, played golf with him.
"It's a tough day," Molitor said. "He was a very humble guy, obviously very talented, but in times like this you think more about the man than [his] ability. [Gwynn was] a gracious guy who gave back to his community throughout his career, and seemed to keep a great balance in his life. He worked very hard at his craft, but his life was a lot more than just that."
The Red Sox are planning a moment of silence before tonight's game for Gwynn, and then they'll face Twins starter Kevin Corriea, who grew up watching his fellow San Diego native turn the Padres into a winner. Correia is coming off perhaps his best start of the season, six shutout innings of the Blue Jays last Tuesday, and now makes his second career start in Fenway Park. He'll depend on his slider, manager Ron Gardenhire said.
"He went more from the cutter to the slider [in Toronto], got a little depth to the pitch," the manager said. "That was one of the pitches he was getting in trouble with -- the slider started diving a little better and it got them off it."
Correia was drilled by the Red Sox for five runs in four innings last month in Target Field, so it's a challenge. But the Twins, after some pitching ugliness on Saturday and some defensive ugliness on Sunday, need a solid start from the righthander. "This is a tough ballpark to pitch in," Gardenhire said. "You make mistakes and they go off that wall."
Gardenhire has made a couple of alterations to his lineup against Red Sox righthander Rubby De La Rosa, flipping Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier once more; Mauer moves into the third slot largely because he's a .321 hitter with nine doubles in 20 career games here. And Sam Fuld has been dropped to the ninth spot in the order, creating a "second leadoff" spot, with Eduardo Escobar moving up to eighth.
Here are the lineups for the first of three games in baseball's oldest ballpark:
De La Rosa RHP
DETROIT -- Trevor Plouffe has been sent home to Minneapolis, suffering from the flu. He's also been placed on the disabled list with inflamation between the ninth rib and the costal cartilage on his left side, an injury that was aggravated by diving for a ground ball on Saturday.
Plouffe, the Twins' RBI leader this season with 38, has been replaced, at least temporarily, by shortstop Pedro Florimon, giving the Twins enough infielders to get through today's series finale at Comerica Park. Eduardo Nunez is receiving treatment for a hamstring strain that he believes won't linger more than a couple of days, and Brian Dozier is coming back from a sore back that caused him to miss Friday's game.
Florimon, optioned to Class AAA Rochester on May 8, was batting .230 with the Red Wings, and had committed 11 errors at shortstop. He has one hit in his last 25 major-league at-bats. Still, selecting Florimon over other infielders at Rochester or Class AA New Britain was an easy call, particularly given that the move is likely a temporary one, because he is already on the 40-man roster.
Meanwhile, manager Ron Gardenhire has made a switch in his lineup, moving the slumping Joe Mauer, who is batting a career-worst .257, to second in the batting order and slotting Dozier, whose 15 home runs are triple the number of any other Twins player, into the third spot.
Here are the lineups for today's noon CT game, as the Twins try to win their second straight series in Comerica Park:
V. Martinez DH
J.D. Martinez LF
A trio of extras from an injury-filled day:
NEED INNING-EATING: Amid all the uncertainty about whether his infielders are healthy enough to play, Ron Gardenhire didn't need another roster move to worry about. So he sounded optimistic that his bullpen, which has had plenty of work on this trip, including 5 1/3 innings by four relievers Saturday, can hold up without requiring any reinforcements from Rochester. "We've got [Ricky] Nolasco pitching [Sunday], so we hope we can count on our starter to eat up innings. If he goes out, no, we don't have enough bullpen, but we hope he's going to be able to give us a performance," Gardenhire said. "We've got a bunch of people who can still throw. Most of our guys only went one inning."
REPLAY SAVES RALLY: The Twins may have trailed by eight runs with just four outs left, but Gardenhire didn't give up on the game. With two outs in the eighth inning, Eduardo Nunez appeared to end the inning with a groundout to second. But Gardenhire challenged umpire Seth Buckminster's call, and replay showed that Nunez's foot touched the bag a split-second before the ball reached Miguel Cabrera. That kept the inning alive, and Eric Fryer, Eduardo Escobar and Danny Santana followed with singles, none of them hit hard but enough to score three runs and close the gap to 12-7. Fryer, by the way, went 3-for-5 in his first game in the majors since last September, but Joe Mauer and Oswaldo Arcia each went 0-for-5.
LIMITED PAIN: Trevor Plouffe said it was the landing on his dive, an awkward attempt in the third inning on Ian Kinsler's grounder, that injured his quad muscle. He doubled over in pain once the ball bounced away. He remained in the game for one more batter, throwing out Torii Hunter to end the inning, but was removed afterward and diagnosed with a strained left oblique.
"I can do pretty much any motion now with limited pain. The throwing motion is the one that bothers me most, but if it's just bruised, you've got to play through a little pain sometimes," said Plouffe, who was taken to a nearby hospital for x-rays and an MRI. "It's not going to feel great [Sunday], but if it's something that's just a little bit of pain, I play through it. I've been doing [hitting] motions the whole time, and those don't bother me."
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