Page 2 of 2 Previous

Continued: Hartman: Having Morneau, Mauer healthy is huge

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: April 13, 2012 - 6:37 AM

The Twins looked feeble at the plate in the season-opening Baltimore series, hitting .163 as a team in the Orioles' three-game sweep, but they apparently found their batting eye in winning two out of three from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, including a 10-9 victory on Thursday.

They pounded out 20 hits in the game, including home runs by Josh Willingham, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. Morneau's blast in the eighth inning, which gave the Twins their first lead at 8-7 after trailing 6-0 in the fifth, was something special to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire because the designated hitter looked like he had regained his old MVP form and was healthy again after suffering from concussion symptoms and several other injuries last year.

Gardenhire described how Morneau's home run looked from the dugout.

"He got a pitch," Gardenhire said. "I think the first one, right after he swung at that ball over his head. I looked at [batting coach] Joe Vavra and I said, 'He's trying to hit an eight-run homer here and we only need two.' I think the next pitch he crushed it, and I said, 'We'll take that one.'

"That was a nice feeling to watch him put a really nice swing on that ball. He's been swinging pretty good. He'll tell you that it's an adjustment trying to figure out this DH thing and stay loose and all these things. It's still an adjustment for him. He's trying to figure out how to handle himself but we'll take that right there. We'll take lots of those."

Gardenhire said he likes Morneau's attitude about hitting. Morneau had flied out with the bases loaded in both the third and sixth innings before hammering his home run into the upper deck in right field.

"The great thing about him is you don't see his mood change at all," Gardenhire said. "He gets it done [or] he doesn't get it done, sure he wants to get it done but he keeps playing the game. That's what you have to do. You make a couple of outs early in the game and you have to keep playing. That's what he did."

Morneau, Mauer heat up

The 20 hits was a great effort for a team that was being ripped every day because of their lack of hitting in the Orioles series and the first game with the Angels.

On Thursday, every starter got at least one hit. Denard Span had four hits, and Mauer, Willingham and Danny Valencia each had three. They entered Thursday's game with 29 hits in their first five games before getting 20 on Thursday. That topped their game high from last season of 16 hits in an 11-1 victory against Oakland on May 19.

Gardenhire talked about how Thursday's game proved how important it is to have a healthy Morneau and Mauer in the lineup.

"You know, you play this game like we did last year without those two, you don't know what you were missing until they start to do things and start playing like we know they're capable of [when they're] healthy," Gardenhire said. "We're hoping to see a lot more of this. Keep them on the field and we believe. You don't win MVPs and batting titles without being real damn good baseball players and that's what these two guys are.

"They weren't healthy when they were out there [last season]," he added. "We need them on the field. It's a team effort, it has to be all of us. But you saw that today, two big home runs."

The last time Mauer and Morneau homered in the same game was July 6, 2010. Mauer hit a home run at Target Field for the first time since August 18, 2010, which was a span of 225 at-bats and 258 plate appearances.

Everyone contributed Thursday. The Twins were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position in the first four innings and 6-for-12 the rest of the game.

Twins rookie first baseman Chris Parmelee, who was 2-for-5 Thursday, is batting a career .458 at Target Field, hitting safely in 12 of 13 games. That includes some hits during his call-up last September.

By contrast, former Cardinals All-Star first baseman Albert Pujols, who signed a 10-year, $254 million contract with the Angels last December, was hitting .182 for the season when he came to bat in the ninth inning at Target Field on Thursday and got his second hit of the series to raise his average to .217.

While the team looked pitiful in Baltimore, Gardenhire believes the real Twins team showed up in the Angels series. He believes they can contend for the AL Central Division title.

"We believe we can. I know a lot of people doubt it but that's what you have to do in this game, you have to prove yourself," Gardenhire said. "After last year we have a lot to prove, we know that. We understand that inside this clubhouse, but we believe in ourselves. But if you do that and you believe in yourself, you'll be fine.

"After [Wednesday's] ballgame [a 6-5 victory for their first victory of the season], we definitely came out and you could see we were more relaxed. We had a feeling we were going to score some runs."

Willingham's power

The Twins, who couldn't buy a hit in Baltimore, hit .387 the past two games against the Angels, with Mauer and Willingham hitting .444 (both 4-for-9).

Willingham's four home runs lead the major leagues. The former Oakland outfielder has hit safely in all six games this season and has collected at least one RBI in all but one of them.

Jottings

• Brian Dozier, the outstanding Twins shortstop prospect, was bothered because of a back problem Wednesday at Class AAA Rochester. But when another player got hurt, he had to play and wound up getting two hits. As of Wednesday, he was hitting .524 for the Red Wings.

• Gophers men's and women's athletics are ranked 13th in the current Director's Cup standings with 486.50 total points. Stanford leads with 876.75, followed by Ohio State (707.00) and Penn State (655.50).

• New Nebraska basketball coach Tim Miles, who used to coach at Southwest Minnesota State and North Dakota State before going to Colorado State, offered Alex Illikainen, a 6-9 freshman from Grand Rapids, a scholarship on Thursday.

• Sioux Falls O'Gorman senior Connor Schaefbauer, who signed with the Gophers as an infielder, was named the South Dakota Class AA basketball player of the year as well as a first-team All-State selection. Maybe Gophers basketball coach Tubby Smith can borrow Schaefbauer in the offseason.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Justin Morneau

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
Final123456789RHE
Cleveland «0310300007100
Minnesota0110000103100
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:T.House(4-3) L:T.May(3-5) S:M.Rzepczynski (1)
HR: CLE- Y.Gomes (20) MIN- B.Dozier (21)

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - LP: B. Wilson 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Grimm 8
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 2
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: D. Otero 0
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 6 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Capuano 3
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 1 FINAL
Colorado - WP: E. Butler 5
Boston - LP: R. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: C. Tillman 7
Milwaukee - WP: Z. Duke 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: M. Melancon 0
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 3 FINAL
Miami - LP: J. Cosart 2
NY Mets - WP: J. Niese 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 2
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: C. Archer 3
Cleveland - WP: T. House 7 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: T. May 3
Seattle - LP: C. Young 1 FINAL
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 10
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 4 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: J. Motte 8
San Francisco - LP: Y. Petit 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: A. Cashner 3
Texas - LP: C. Lewis 5 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Weaver 8
San Diego 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(21) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
(18) Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
Miss State 34 FINAL
(8) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(14) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(24) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
(22) Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 0 FINAL
Portland 3
Houston 0 FINAL
Philadelphia 0
New England 0 FINAL
Columbus 1
San Jose 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
Seattle 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 4
D.C. 3 FINAL
Chicago 3
FC Dallas 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How sure are you that the Twins are on the road to improving?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close