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.
CHICAGO -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire thought the defense could have prevented all three runs in Monday's 3-0 loss to the White Sox, and once again, most of his frustration was with third baseman Danny Valencia.
* Second inning: Alejandro De Aza doubled to left field. Trevor Plouffe, making just his second career start in left, took a bad route and had the ball bounce off his glove. De Aza stole third base and scored on Tyler Flowers' sacrifice fly.
* Seventh inning: Dayan Viciedo led off with a hard grounder past Valencia for a single and later scored on Flowers' double to deep center field.
* Eighth inning: Alexi Ramirez grounded another single past Valencia. Ramirez advanced to second on a deep fly ball to center fielder Ben Revere. Then, with two outs, Viciedo hit a soft grounder to the left side. Valencia got there, but failed to glove the ball and ran past it. Tsuyoshi Nishioka inexplicably darted toward third base, instead of grabbing the ball, and Ramirez wound up scoring all the way from second base.
"It could have been a 0-0 ballgame," Gardenhire said. "I think all three runs really shouldn’t have been out there without us giving it to them."
"Danny had a little bit of a struggle at third base," Gardenhire added. "He wasn’t moving too well and a couple balls went by him. We’ve gotta pick that last ball up. Even if you don’t get an out, you’ve still gotta grab that ball and keep that run from scoring."
Valencia has worked and worked on his defense, as the Twins try to improve his range. He is OK going to his backhand side but has a slow first step going toward his glove side.
"We’ve been working on better jumps and not standing straight up," Gardenhire said. "As you see, he starts out and then he’s straight up and the ball’s on the ground. You can’t run after a ball standing straight up and go all the way to the ground and get it.
"There’s a reason you start down low and stay down low. We watch it. He stands up, the ball’s hard hit and you’ve got no movement whatsoever. It’s basically a fall toward the ball. Danny knows that. He’s a little flustered himself."
Asked about the team's defense Monday, Valencia said, "There’s some plays that could have gone either way. [Kevin] Slowey pitched really well. We just didn’t score any runs. You can’t win games without scoring any runs."
Asked specifically about the play in the eighth inning where Ramirez scored from second, Valencia said, "It’s pretty much a do-or-die play. It was probably going to be a hit either way. I don’t think either [Tsuyoshi Nishioka] or me had a play on it.
"It’s one of those things where you just don’t want it to get by you. You’re just hoping somebody’s backing you up, and it’s a tough play either way between me and him."
Again, Valencia added, "You can’t win games without scoring runs."
That's true, but Gardenhire and the coaches believe the Twins can win a lot more games over time with better defense.
|Seattle - LP: F. Hernandez||0||FINAL|
|Cleveland - WP: J. Masterson||6|
|Arizona - LP: W. Miley||1||FINAL|
|Miami - WP: R. Nolasco||2|
|Cincinnati - LP: A. Chapman||2||FINAL|
|Philadelphia - WP: A. Bastardo||3|
|Houston - LP: L. Harrell||0||FINAL|
|Pittsburgh - WP: J. Locke||1|
|Los Angeles - LP: K. Jansen||2||FINAL|
|Atlanta - WP: L. Avilan||5|
|Tampa Bay - WP: M. Moore||3||FINAL|
|Baltimore - LP: C. Tillman||1|
|Boston - WP: J. Lackey||5||FINAL|
|Minnesota - LP: P. Hernandez||1|
|Milwaukee - LP: K. Lohse||2||FINAL|
|St. Louis - WP: J. Gast||4|
|NY Mets - WP: S. Rice||4||FINAL|
|Chicago Cubs - LP: K. Fujikawa||3|
|Chicago WSox - LP: J. Peavy||2||FINAL|
|LA Angels - WP: J. Vargas||6|
|Kansas City - LP: K. Herrera||3||FINAL|
|Oakland - WP: J. Blevins||4|
|Washington - LP: D. Haren||4||FINAL|
|San Diego - WP: A. Cashner||13|
|San Francisco - LP: B. Zito||0||FINAL|
|Colorado - WP: J. Nicasio||5|
|Detroit - LP: J. Ortega||8||FINAL|
|Texas - WP: R. Ross||11|
|Red Bull New York||1|
|Sporting Kansas City||1||FINAL|
|Real Salt Lake||4||FINAL|