Upon further review, HR becomes less-costly double


Twins starting pitcher Carl Pavano

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

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The difference in the game Sunday might have been the reversal of a Michael Brantley three-run homer in the fourth inning that became a two-run double.

Brantley, with two on in the fourth, hit a Carl Pavano pitch off the Kasota stone-covered overhang in right. First base umpire Bill Miller signaled a home run, so Brantley circled the bases and shook hands in the dugout.

Not so fast, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

"I could see where that ball hit," Gardenhire said. "It looked like it was on the corner [top edge] to me because it came back into play. The only way for it to do that is to hit on top of the wall."

Replays showed the ball hitting the edge of the stone and bouncing back into play. Brantley was given a two-run double. Cleveland took a 3-2 lead and wound up losing 4-3.

Is Pavano in favor of instant replay now?

"I didn't like the fact I just gave up [a long hit]," Pavano said. "I didn't know it was three runs or four runs."

It was the first play to be reviewed at Target Field this season (ninth overall) and third to be overturned.

Shortstop talk

Class AAA Rochester shortstop Trevor Plouffe is batting .300 with five homers and 12 RBI while batting in the No. 3 spot for the Red Wings. His start, which came after a shaky spring training, caught the eye of Gardenhire, who is waiting for his shortstop, Alexi Casilla, to put it all together.

"Plouffe is playing real good down there and swinging good," Gardenhire said. "I've been thinking about him a lot, too.

"If, offensively, we continue to scuffle, I'm not afraid to bring him up and see what he can do."

Casilla was batting .170 with one RBI for going 2-for-3 with a run scored Sunday. Gardenhire admitted Casilla's numbers look worse given the team's overall offensive struggles, but Casilla can be a functional hitter at the bottom of the order.

Casilla helped and hurt his case Sunday.

He singled in the third and moved to second on Denard Span's single, then missed a hit-and-run signal. When Jason Kubel singled to right, Casilla ran through coach Steve Liddle's stop sign at third base and was thrown out trying to score.

With a runner on second with two outs in the fourth, Casilla swung at a 3-1 pitch outside the strike zone and popped up to end the inning. He did lead off the seventh with a single and scored on Kubel's double.

"[Casilla] had a little rough time around third base," Gardenhire said. "He missed a stop sign, missed a hit-and-run sign. But getting on base is a good thing, so maybe he can get familiar with running the bases."

If the Twins decide to make a move at short, it likely will be to call up Plouffe rather than look outside the organization.

Bully for the bullpen

Lefthander Glen Perkins got through one-third of an inning Sunday but walked a batter and gave up a single. Actually, left fielder Jason Repko lost the ball in the sun and had it drop in front of him, so it really wasn't Perkins' fault.

The fact that this happened in the eighth inning shows Perkins has moved up in the pecking order among late-inning relievers.

The Twins bullpen still is being tinkered with, with Joe Nathan working on his pitches and righthanders Jim Hoey and Eric Hacker being called up from Rochester. Perkins, with 9 1/3 scoreless innings, has pitched his way into a more important role. Entering Sunday, lefthanded hitters were batting .182 against him and righthanded hitters were batting .176. It's his ability to pitch inside to righthanded hitters that makes him more valuable late in games.

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