A couple of notes from yet another Twins loss to the Yankees:
Josh Willingham has been playing with a sore knee for a month now, and he obviously thought he could keep playing while he heals. So he tried to sound optimistic after the game Monday, but you could tell he knows that the decision may have as much to do with the Twins' outfielder shortage as his knee's condition. In other words, if he needs a few days to let it heal, the Twins just don't have them.
So who would the Twins call up? The only outfielder at Rochester who's on the 40-man roster is Aaron Hicks, who is on a rehab assignment. Hicks is batting .190 (4-for-21) for the Red Wings, who were rained out on Monday, but bringing him back would allow the Twins to give Clete Thomas an occasional day off. Manager Ron Gardenhire and general manager Terry Ryan have been adamant that they want Hicks to produce at the plate before they bring him back, but this may disrupt that plan.
Chris Herrmann is another possibility; he was an outfielder before the Twins converted him to catcher, and he can even play center. Herrmann would also give the Twins three catchers again, which may not be a bad idea considering that Ryan Doumit has been limited by a hamstring injury.
It's also possible, of course, that Willingham's knee will feel better Tuesday and an MRI will show no damage. Maybe a cortisone shot will help again and the outfielder can convince Ron Gardenhire that he'll be good enough to play in a day or two.
But that wasn't the vibe in the clubhouse after tonight's game.
-- If you're coming to Tuesday's game and appreciate Mariano Rivera's contribution to the game, show up a little early. The Twins will hold a special ceremony at 6:50 to honor the game's all-time saves leader. And speaking of coming to the game, not as many did tonight as I would have expected. Attendance was only 29,619; only six home games (of 28 played) in May or June attracted a smaller crowd. Several messages on Twitter mentioned the Twins' flexible pricing as one culprit -- Yankee games are the most expensive of the season, and Twins fans don't like paying the premium prices.
-- The Twins' three-run first inning might have been even bigger, but for perhaps the worst call I've seen in a game this year. With nobody out, Justin Morneau tapped a ball to third, and David Adams double-clutched before he threw. Morneau clearly beat the throw -- replays showed the ball still five feet away when his foot touched the bag, and it was obvious to the naked eye, too -- but umpire Corey Blaser called him out. Not saying it would have changed the outcome of a 10-4 loss, but the Twins might have knocked Andy Pettitte out of the game early, considering he threw 41 pitches in the first inning.