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.

Twins pregame: Solve Dickey's knuckleball and end a losing streak

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: July 6, 2013 - 11:42 AM

It's time to see how the Twins respond.

They take on the Blue Jays today one day after Gardenhire addressed the team following a loss on Friday. He sensed growing tension in the clubhouse and reminded everyone about the importance of relaxing and not getting wound up when things aren't going well.

It began last week at Target Field when they were swept by the Yankees in a four-game series. One Twins player said the, ``here we go again,'' feeling began to creep in the clubhouse during that series. Gardy had to say something.

This has become a critical 10-game road trip. The Twins have series at Tampa and New York, so it's not going to be easy to start a movement back toward .500. But the manager expects his club to respond.

``It was good,'' catcher Joe Mauer said of Gardenhire's talk. ``Everyone is trying hard but that can work against. We have to go out there and play hard like we have been playing but try have some fun.'

Once again, it's hard to win and develop. Friday's lineup included six Twins with less than 1,000 at-bats. Good pitching can make up for weaknesses elsewhere, but the Twins rotation has been unable to get on a roll.

Today, the Twins have to face R.A. Dickey and his knuckleball. Aaron Hicks is going to bat righthanded and see if that helps him hit the unique pitch.

The All-Star announcements will take place at 6:30 p.m. Expect Joe Mauer and Glen Perkins to make the AL squad. I would be floored if Perkins doesn't make it.

Byron Buxton hit his first home run for Class A Fort Myers on Friday - but it was an inside-the-park special. Rob Antony, the Twins assistant GM, said Buxton made it to home, ``easily.''

Twins (36-47)

1. Brian Dozier, 2B
2. Jamey Carroll, 3B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Oswaldo Arcia, LF
6. Trevor Plouffe, DH
7. Chris Parmelee, RF
8. Aaron Hicks, CF
9. Eduardo Escobar, SS

Pitching: Mike Pelfrey, RHP

Blue Jays (42-44)

1. Jose Reyes, SS
2. Jose Bautista, RF
3. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B
4. Adam Lind, DH
5. Colby Rasmus, CF
6. Rajai Davis, LF
7. Macier Izturis, 3B
8. Josh Thole, C
9. Muneori Kawasaki, 2B

Pitching: R.A. Dickey, Knuckleballer



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