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Milwaukee Brewers shortstop Craig Counsell, top, leaps over Minnesota Twins' Alexi Casilla to try and complete a double play on a ball hit by Twins' Joe Mauer during the fifth inning of a baseball game Friday, June 13, 2008, in Milwaukee. Mauer beat the throw to first.

Morry Gash, Associated Press

Headache must be Gardenhire's price for needed victory

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE
  • Star Tribune
  • June 14, 2008 - 3:38 PM

MILWAUKEE - The Twins arrived in Cleveland on Tuesday after getting blown out in four games by the White Sox. This was a team in need of a fast start, and the opportunity arrived in the first against Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia.

Carlos Gomez and Alexi Casilla reached with singles. With one out, Justin Morneau hit a drive deep toward left-center.

Left fielder Ben Francisco made a catch that, to most observers, had a modest degree of difficulty.

Gomez, running off second, didn't see it that way. In Go-Go's world, Francisco's catch will be remembered the way we oldtimers recall Willie Mays' catch against Vic Wertz in the 1954 World Series.

Gomez was running around third and heading for home.

Meanwhile, Francisco gathered himself and tossed the ball to second (Go-Go's previous location) for an inning-ending double play.

That wound up being the Twins' best shot in a 1-0 loss to Sabathia. They would lose two of three to Cleveland and arrive here in Miller Park on Friday night with three games remaining on a 1-6 road trip.

"How do you like the baseball you've been seeing from us?'' manager Ron Gardenhire said to a Minneapolis visitor.

Gardenhire was less rhetorical and more direct in addressing his players before they took the field for batting practice. He expressed dismay that his athletes were "not getting after it'' when they fell behind.

The Brewers were back home after pummeling Houston with eight home runs in the previous two games. They had won 12 of 16 and were among the leaders for National League wild-card position.

Again, the Twins were in need of a fast start. Casilla reached on an error with one out, and then Joe Mauer ripped a drive that was clearly going up the left-center alley and to the fence.

Inexplicably, Casilla stopped near second, looked around with confusion, and then settled for third base. This cost Mauer an RBI on his double and led to an animated conversation between Casilla and third base coach Scott Ullger.

The guess from a distance was that Casilla might have been paranoid about the blunder by his pal Gomez in Cleveland and decided to hang out at second until Mauer's drive landed.

"That wasn't it,'' Gardenhire said. "Lexi said when he looked up, he couldn't find the ball, couldn't see it at all.''

Casilla confirmed this and then said: "I should have scored on that play.''

The Twins wound up getting the Casilla run on Justin Morneau's groundout, but it was another example why Gardenhire refers to his inexperienced Dominicans at the top of the order as Loose Cannon I (Gomez) and Loose Cannon II (Casilla).

"Actually, Lexi's been pretty good since he's been back here,'' Gardenhire said. "But Carlos -- I've never had so many headaches during ballgames.''

Kevin Slowey still was holding that 1-0 lead for the Twins into the fifth. Gomez opened the inning with a bunt toward first. Milwaukee pitcher Dave Bush fielded it, but first baseman Prince Fielder had no chance to retreat in time to get Gomez.

Casilla followed with a bunt toward second baseman Bill Hall. He couldn't come up with the ball and Casilla had a hit.

Fielder took the late throw and saw that Gomez had taken a turn around second. Go-Go managed to scramble back a tick ahead of Fielder's throw.

Gardenhire could be seen in the dugout with his hands covering his headache. "Where was he going?'' said the manager, meaning Gomez.

Soon, he was coming home on Morneau's two-run triple that put the fourth hitter at 50 RBI for the season. Not bad for a power hitter who has not yet had a true hot streak.

The Twins put away this 10-2 victory with five runs in the seventh. Gomez had an infield hit to load the bases, then flew home when Casilla hit a double off the right-field wall. The little second baseman now has 22 RBI in his 27 games with the Twins.

"I ran a little extra to get that RBI for Alexi,'' Gomez said. "When you have a 1-2 like this, it's good. Speed guys like that ... if it's a good bunt, it will be a hit.

"Prince told me that. After the bunt, he said, 'You're too fast.' "

Patrick Reusse can be heard weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP at 6:45 and 7:45 a.m. and 4:40 p.m. • preusse@startribune.com

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