Three additional thoughts after the Twins' sixth walk-off loss of the season:
WE WON'T SPEAK OF IT AGAIN: I'm not particularly superstitious, but when Alex Gordon's home run cleared the right-field wall Tuesday night, I somehow felt responsible. Before the game, I was chatting with Glen Perkins, who is about as accessible and accommodating a player as I've ever covered. The topic? Blown saves. I brought up an odd statistic that I discovered over the weekend: The Twins were 8-7 during his career in games in which he was charged with a blown save. He said he noticed the same thing, that he had a tendency to leave games tied when he had a bad one, but not put his team behind. In fact, Perkins said, he had only given up one walk-off hit in his career, a home run by Brandon Inge in 2011. (I looked it up: Sept. 10 in Detroit, when Inge connected in a 2-2 game.) He was laughing at the fact that he didn't realize it was a walk-off at the time; he was about to ask for a ball from the umpire and noticed his teammates heading for the dugout. It was a nice anecdote that I filed away for later -- though not much later, as it turned out. As reporters walked up to his locker after the game, Perkins was telling somebody that it was my fault. Fortunately, he was just kidding. "That's baseball," he said.
THE PITCHER THEY EXPECTED: After all he's been through this summer, the elbow injury and probably the worst overall performance of his major-league career and a couple of rough starts since returning, I thought Ricky Nolasco might feel relieved about his seven shutout innings tonight. Even Ron Gardenhire called it the best outing he's seen from his Opening Day starter. But Nolasco said he's always made a point to be the same person in good times and bad, because "in this game, you know you're going to have ups and downs," he said. "Obviously, I haven't thrown the way I wanted to ... but everything happens for a reason. I take it all in stride." He might not be relieved, but it's a good bet that Gardenhire and the rest of the organization, which made Nolasco the highest-paid free agent in Twins history with a $49 million contract last winter, probably are. This was the pitcher they hoped they were getting.
FLU BUGS AND AN OLD FRIEND: Ron Gardenhire is suffering from the flu, and so are a lot of other people in the clubhouse, apparently. Nolasco said he was so sick on the mound, he almost asked out of the game in the third inning, but got stronger as he went on. It will be interesting to see if the lineup, which has been so steady this month -- the top four hitters in the Twins' lineup have been identical for the past 15 games -- gets shaken up tomorrow. On the other hand, Brian Dozier had the big hit tonight, a double that produced Minnesota's only run, Joe Mauer extended his road hitting streak to 10 games with a clutch RBI single, and the rookies just keep hitting -- a single apiece tonight, giving Danny Santana a 10-game hitting streak of his own. The Twins face a familiar face tomorrow: righthander Liam Hendriks, lost on waivers last December.