Gardenhire's 'have fun' speech to Twins appears to have desired effect

— After watching the Twins look lifeless in a 4-0 loss to Toronto on Friday, dropping them to a season-worst 11 games below .500, manager Ron Gardenhire delivered a postgame speech asking players to remain positive in an attempt to remove tension from the clubhouse.

Players understood why Gardenhire said what he said. The four-game sweep at home to the Yankees evoked memories of the Twins’ 195 losses over the two previous seasons. Were they on that same path in 2013?

And with the way the roster is constructed, the Twins have to turn things around while developing young players. Six players in Saturday’s lineup had fewer than 1,000 at-bats of major league experience.

“You do get that with kids,” Gardenhire said. “You can see them drop their head a little bit. It’s just the way of the world, and that is the norm in baseball. Veterans do the same thing; the game can get to you a little bit. That is what we guard against.

“It’s frustrating losing baseball games and not getting the big hit.”

His attempt to manage the stress in the clubhouse was positively received.

“The veteran guys get frustrated, too,” catcher Joe Mauer said. “It’s not an easy game. You definitely need to be reminded of what you are doing. It’s just like Gardy says, this is a heck of an opportunity to put on a major league baseball uniform. Go out and try to enjoy it.”

Saturday, the Twins scored three runs in the third inning and three more in the seventh to defeat the Blue Jays 6-0, ending their six-game losing streak.

“We came out and everyone was running around and hootin’ and hollerin’,” Gardenhire said. “It was a little bit better atmosphere. I thought it needed to be said, but I think everyone understands and knew exactly what I was talking about.”

Turf watch

Trevor Plouffe was the designated hitter Saturday, as Gardenhire elected to rest Ryan Doumit while getting Jamey Carroll and Eduardo Escobar into the game.

Gardenhire said it helps both Doumit and Plouffe, with the Twins playing on artificial turf for the first time this season. Gardenhire said his own legs were especially sore after running around during pregame activity Friday, then cramped up overnight.

“That’s the first time it has happened in a long time,” he said. “Waking up at 5 p.m. with your leg straight up in the air.”

Etc.

• Twins lefthander Caleb Thielbar worked a scoreless seventh inning Saturday. That gives him 19⅔ scoreless innings over 17 appearances. Thielbar, from Randolph, Minn., now is tied for the sixth-longest streak of scoreless appearances to start a career. Oakland’s Brad Ziegler holds the record of 29 scoreless appearances.

• Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey hit Oswaldo Arcia in the right hand with a pitch in the sixth inning. Arcia ran the bases but was replaced by Clete Thomas when it was time to take the field. Arcia said the pitch caught his pinkie finger, and there is a bruise to prove it.

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