La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

With Hughes on the mound, Twins go for series win in Denver

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: July 13, 2014 - 2:08 PM

Oswaldo Arcia was in the original starting lineup but reported to the park sick, and has been scratched. Chris Parmelee has replaced him and is in right field. Arcia could still be available to pinch.

With a win today, the Twins will hit the All-Star break following a 5-2 road trip. they would be 44-50, three games better than they were through 94 games last season.

Signs of progress?  The Twins think so. They don't think they've been blown out of games as much as they were last season. That feeling like they don't have a shot is not with this team.

But there is concern that they could nosedive after the trade deadline if they don't get on a roll and convince Terry Ryan to add and not subtract. There will be more on that subject in the dead tree edition tomorrow.

Phil Hughes is going for his 10th win today. He would be the first Twin to reach 10 wins before the break since Carl Pavano in 2010.

Twins (43-50)

Brian Dozier, 2B
Kurt Suzuki, C
K-Mo, 1B
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Chris Parmelee, RF
Hammer, LF
Eduardo Escobar, SS
Sam Fuld, CF
Phil Hughes, RHP

Rockies (40-54)

Charlie Blackmon, CF
Car-Go, RF
Tulo, SS
J-Mo, 1B
Nolan Arenado, 3B
Corey Dickerson, LF
Wilin Rosario, C
DJ LeMathieu, 2B
Brett Anderson, LHP

Three Twins postgame thoughts from LEN3: Dozier, Correia, Diamond

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: July 12, 2014 - 8:11 PM

Here are three thoughts following the Twins' 9-3 victory over the Rockies

DOZIER'S DEFENSE IN THIRD: ``When he let it go, I honestly didn't know where he was throwing the ball,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. Justin Morneau singled up the middle in the third inning, and Charlie Blackmon was chugging around third and headed for home. Brian Dozier was in the short outfield, he played Morneau so deep. He dashed to his right fielded the ball and threw a one-hop strike to Eric Fryer at home in time to get Blackmon and end the inning. Not so fast. Rockies manager Walt Weiss wanted the play reviewed to see if Fryer violated rule 7.13 about catcher's blocking the plate. Angel Hernandez, the home plate umpire and crew chief, too a look and confirmed the play. ``Fry made a nice play,'' Gardenhire said. ``He got behind the plate then comes up and  makes a nice play.''

CORREIA IS A COORS MAN: Correia is 3-3 with a 3.35 ERA at Coors Field - six starts, 10 in relief. How come the Rockies have never gone after this man? I checked with a scout during the game who said Correia's stuff looked flatter than normal but he was finding ways to get hitters out. He's right. Troy Tulowitzki is batting .430 at home, and Correia got him to hit into a double play to end the fifth. ``The way I pitch kind of helps me,'' Correia said. ``I don't throw a lot of big breaking balls. Balls kinda do weird things, (but) it kind of plays in to the way I throw the ball.'' It's a big outfield here. There's a lot of room to cover, the outfielders play a little deep and a pitcher can get blooped to death if he's not keeping the ball down or jamming a few hitters. Correia apparently has figured that out here.

THAT'S IT FOR DIAMOND: For a while, it looked like Scott Diamond was going to settle in as a solid back-end rotation guy. Then things went haywire last season. He lost the battle for a rotation spot this spring. He opened the season at Class AAA Rochester but was demoted to the bullpen. On Saturday, the Twins released Diamond to make room for Trevor May, who's coming off the DL tomorrow to start for the Red Wings. Too bad for Diamond. A heck of a guy and hard worker who probably needs a change of scenery. Hope he gets things figured out.

Correia tries to extend run as Twins face Rockies

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: July 12, 2014 - 2:23 PM

Kevin Correia has a 2.43 ERA over his last six starts, and part of the reason why, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, is because Correia is throwing the slider more often.

``He had gotten a little cutter happy.'' Gardenhire said.

Mixing in the slider has helped Correia keep hitters guessing a little more, and the grounders that have gotten through the infield and suddenly being gobbled up. Correia felt things would eventually even out for him, and they have.

Kurt Suzuki's left ankle is fine, he said. It really didn't show much evidence of being hit when he fouled a pitch off the area during Friday's game. He said the ball got him between the heel and Achilles. Ouch. He said he knew he wasn't coming out, although it would have been enough for three stretchers to come out if it was soccer.

Mike Pelfrey (elbow surgery) and Rick Nolasco (sore flexor pronator) were allowed to go home to Wichita and Miami, respectively, and rehab during the All-Star break. Nolasco can come off the DL on the 22nd but hasn't done any throwing since landing on the disabled list, so it doesn't look like he will be ready to pitch when he's eligible to come off.

Twins (42-50)

Brian Dozier, 2B
Eduardo Escobar, SS
Kendrys Morales, 1B
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Oswaldo Arcia, RF
Josh Willingham, LF
Sam Fuld, CF
Eric Fryer, C
Kevin Correia, RHP

Rockies (40-53)

Charlie Blackmon (CF
Car-Go, RF
Tulo, SS
No. 33, 1B
Nolan Arenado, 3B
Corey Dickerson, LF
Michael McKenry, C
DJ LeMathieu, 2B
Tyler Matzek, LHP

Three Twins postgame thoughts from LEN3: Suzuki, Tulo, Car-Go, No-Go

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: July 11, 2014 - 11:58 PM


Here are three thoughts following the Twins' 6-2 loss to Colorado:

SUZUKI'S ANKLE: Kurt Suzuki was in some major pain after he fouled a ball off his left ankle in the fifth inning. I thought he was coming out of the game but fought his way through the rest of the game. Troy Tulowitzki's fantastic throw in the seventh was on a ground ball Suzuki hit, and Suzuki was unable to find his top gear while running to first base. Suzuki is one of game-on guys in the clubhouse, so it's going to take a lot for him to come out of a game.

ROCKIES DEFENSE: Tulo's play in the hole was outstanding. The jump throw was Jeter-esque. But Jeter doesn't make that play because he doesn't have the range Tulo does. What a player. And Carlos Gonzalez, in his first game back off the disabled list, made a huge throw from right field in the third to throw out Brian Dozier, who tried to go from first to third on a single. The Rockies defense was impressive.

TWINS OFFENSE: They weren't getting a lot of chances early, but they forced Jorge De La Rosa to throw 62 pitches through three innings. I thought they had a chance to knock him out earlier and get to that bullpen. Then again, Colorado's bullpen was very effective on Friday. Rockies pitchers threw 170 pitches on Friday to the Twins 100. The Twins lacked key hits - and power.

Twins visit the Rockies in interleague play

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: July 11, 2014 - 5:13 PM


The Twins had a long night of travel, arriving at their road headquarters around 4 a.m. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire thought about giving Josh Willingham and Kurt Suzuki a day off but left Suzuki and his .300 average in the lineup. Eduardo Nunez is in left field tonight, which is a good thing because Nunez can cover more ground in this spacious outfield.

Kris Johnson said he has not taken any batting practice lately. He'll hit in the cage today then do his best once the game starts.

It has started to rain here, and the tarp is being pulled across the infield. Stay tuned....


Twins (42-49)

Brian Dozier, 2B
Kurt Suzuki, C
Kendrys Morales, 1B
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Oswaldo Arcia, RF
Eduardo Nunez, LF
Sam Fuld, CF
Kris Johnson, LHP

Rockies (39-53)

Charlie Blackmon, LF
Drew Stubbs, CF
Carlos Gonzalez, RF
Tulo, SS
No. 33, 1B
Nolan Arenado, 3B
Willin Rosario, C
DJ LeMathieu, 2B
Jorge De La Rosa, LHP

Three Twins postgame thoughts from LEN3: Pino, Fuld, King Felix

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: July 11, 2014 - 1:13 AM

Here are three thoughts following the Twins' 4-2 win over Seattle.

PINO GETS WIN, GETS DEMOTED: Yohan Pino had to work out of two bases loaded jams on Thursday. He struck out Corey Hart by taking something off his slider on a 3-2 pitch. Then he got Hart to tap to first to end the fifth with the bases loaded. Chris Parmelee made a nice play to his right and threw to Pino, who was covering first. Pino needed 100 pitches to get through five innings, but he has the game ball from his first major league win. ``I'm happy for me, my family and my teammates,'' he said. He was also given a plane ticket to Rochester. Someone had to go to make room for Kris Johnson, who is starting tomorrow. Pino is not scheduled to pitch again until the Monday after the break. So it makes sense.

FULD ON BASE: Sam Fuld reached base in 9 of his last 11 plate appearances on four singles, four walks and one home run. He entered the game batting .345 since June 21. He could be a big boost at the bottom of the lineup.

INTERESTING DECISION: Tom Wilhelmsen, a reliever, started on Thursday so the Mariners could push Felix Hernandez back a day to start against the A's, Well, the move backfired, as the Mariners now will face Oakland with a three-game losing streak.

BONUS: Just in case you were wondering. Byron Buxton was scheduled to leave Fort Myers' game after four at bats tonight. So the fact he was replaced late in the game is not a reason for concern. I checked with a Twins official who said it was part of his progression.

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT