La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

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.

Twins postgame: Nathan in pressure role. Plouffe has short memory.

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: May 19, 2011 - 1:22 AM

Joe Nathan is not a thinker on the mound. He rarely shakes off his catcher.

And he didn't bat an eye when catcher Drew Butera signaled for a breaking ball with two on in the ninth and a 3-2 count to Mark Ellis.

``(Butera) definitely was the only one who had that idea,'' Nathan said. ``He was the only one in the park who knew,;;

Nathan followed orders and threw a breaker that, uh, might have been a little inside. But not in home plate umpire Ted Barrett's world. Strike three. Conor Jackson followed with a ground out to end in the inning, then the Twins won 4-3 in 10.

``Pretty filthy in a do-or-die situation,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Who else can Twins manager Ron Gardenhire trust in late innings these days. He has decided to use Nathan later in games,

Nathan has made progress since taking himself out of the closer's role last month. He's missing the plate by smaller margins. He's not yanking his slider down and off to the left of home plate. He did throw a bad slider to Kurt Suzuki in the ninth that turned into a double, but he feels he's getting better. He's using his curveball more, and was willing to throw it when asked in a tight situation.

``It is not all there yet,'' Nathan said, ``but it is getting there. It's going to be some time to get things where I want. But these outings give me more confidence every time I go out.''

Sounds like Nathan is going to go out later in games as a set up man to closer Matt Capps. Nathan, by the way, got the win, his first since Aug, 21, 2009 at Kansas City.


Not a fan of these late night west coast games, They are deadline killers. We write a story, grab quotes, throw a couple in and hope it reads well.

If this game would have been at Target Field, and there would have been time to work at this craft, I would have written about Trevor Plouffe, who shook off a throwing error in the second inning to drive in three of the Twins' four runs.

His throwing error came after Carl Pavano failed to cover first on a grounder, so runners moved to second and third then scored on Kevin Kouzmanoff's single. That gave Oakland a 2-1 lead.

Plouffe shook off the error and came through with a two-run single in the next inning. Then his sacrifice fly in the 10th allowed Delmon Young to score the winning run. That run was set up by Daric Barton's awful throw after fielding Alexi Casilla's bunt.

Plouffe has a couple weeks to prove he's ready for this level. His play on Wednesday helped his cause.

``I knew I was prepared,'' he said. ``I took a million ground balls before the game. Made a bunch of throws before the game. One just got away from me. Earlier, maybe last year or earlier in my career, I would have dwelled on it and made a couple more errors and had a couple of bad at-bats. Hopefully, That's something I've put past me. I think I have, having a short memory and knowing that I'm prepared.''


Delmon Young's single snapped an 0-for-12 skid.

Denard Span's double snapped an 0-for-11 skid.

Danny Valencia is in a 0-for-16 skid.

Justin Morneau barely had more assists (8) than Vancouver Canucks goals (7).


Cleveland 86 FINAL
Indiana 93
Washington 81 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Golden State 113 FINAL
Toronto 89
New York 121 FINAL
Detroit 115
Orlando 88 FINAL
Atlanta 95
Charlotte 98 FINAL
Boston 106
LA Clippers 97 FINAL
Memphis 79
Brooklyn 98 FINAL
Houston 102
Miami 102 FINAL
New Orleans 104
Minnesota 89 FINAL
Chicago 96
Utah 104 FINAL
Denver 82
San Antonio 107 FINAL
Sacramento 96
Milwaukee 93 FINAL
LA Lakers 101
Oklahoma City 112 FINAL
Portland 115
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 2
Calgary 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Washington 0 FINAL
Carolina 3
Chicago 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Colorado 5 FINAL(SO)
Dallas 4
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Siena 63 FINAL
Quinnipiac 73
Harvard 49 FINAL
Cornell 57
Penn 69 FINAL
Brown 75
Fairfield 65 FINAL
Canisius 72
Manhattan 75 FINAL
Iona 79
Saint Peters 67 FINAL
Marist 69
Princeton 60 FINAL
Yale 81
Ohio 58 FINAL
Akron 70
Dartmouth 84 FINAL
Columbia 71
Valparaiso 56 FINAL
Cleveland State 53
Louisiana Tech 75 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 88
Seton Hall 77 FINAL
Xavier 60
Cornell 54 FINAL
Harvard 60
Yale 49 FINAL
(14) Princeton 67
Elon 51 FINAL
Drexel 54
Northeastern 47 FINAL
James Madison 82
St Johns 60 FINAL
Butler 49
Creighton 71 FINAL
Georgetown 62
Brown 58 FINAL
Penn 75
Columbia 50 FINAL
Dartmouth 60
Canisius 54 FINAL
Siena 58
St Josephs Brooklyn 35 FINAL
Western Carolina 86 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 80
Colorado 66 FINAL
Arizona 51
Southern Ill 72 FINAL
Bradley 66
Drake 59 FINAL
Wichita State 80
Indiana State 71 FINAL
Evansville 53
Illinois State 53 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 67
Northern Iowa 70 FINAL
Missouri State 72
Utah 42 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 46
Providence 62 FINAL
Villanova 71
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