MLB Insider: Span among former Twins thriving

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 21, 2013 - 11:40 PM

Washington Nationals' Denard Span (2) is congratulated by teammate Chad Tracy (18) after scoring on a single by Wilson Ramos during the 10th inning of a baseball game on Sunday, July 14, 2013, in Miami. The Nationals defeated the Marlins 5-2 in 10 innings.

Photo: Wilfredo Lee, Associated Press - Ap

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Denard Span was disappointed when his hitting streak came to an end Thursday with an 0-for-4 game but not for long. When he finished a postgame TV interview, he walked to the clubhouse, opened the door, and found his teammates gathered there to give him a standing ovation.

“That made me feel good because all year I’ve been struggling, I’ve been battling,” Span, who collected a hit in 29 consecutive games, most in the majors this season, told reporters. “I’ve been trying to earn their respect.”

And not just theirs. His words gave away how much pressure Span felt in his first season in Washington, when he batted just .260 for four months and lost his leadoff spot. “I’ve gotten a lot of scrutiny this year with how I started,” said Span, the Twins’ first-round pick in 2002. “It’s just been good for [Nationals fans] to see that I am a good player.”

Span’s not the only former Twin who proved he’s a good player this year. Far from it. Around the majors, 46 ex-Minnesotans were on major league rosters at some point this year, all but Johan Santana got into a game, and many of them had career years.

Francisco Liriano, in fact, will surely receive some lower-ballot consideration in Cy Young voting for his turnaround season, and he’s one of the favorites for comeback player of the year after winning 15 games for the Pirates. Likewise, Michael Cuddyer and Carlos Gomez could collect a few votes at the bottom of an MVP ballot after delivering sensational performances, albeit on poor teams.

Depending upon the final-week races, as many as 16 ex-Twins could appear in the postseason, led by David Ortiz, who has already appeared in 66 playoff games. After eclipsing 20 home runs for the 12th consecutive season (a streak he began in Minnesota), Big Papi will try to win his third World Series championship, A.J. Pierzynski his second, and Nick Punto has a decent shot at his first. Who else owns a ring? Yep, Jose Mijares, won last year.

If the Pirates reach the Series for the first time since 1979, they’ll take Liriano, Garrett Jones and Justin Morneau with them.

Joe Nathan is close to reaching 40 saves for the fourth time in his career, Grant Balfour for his first time. Craig Breslow and Luis Ayala don’t get as much acclaim in their teams’ bullpens, but each proved his value. So did Jesse Crain, baseball’s most effective setup man until his shoulder began aching.

Gomez needs one stolen base to reach 37, matching his career high; he already set a new personal mark in home runs, with 21. Torii Hunter proved his career isn’t over, batting .295 for the Tigers. Ben Revere batted over .300 until he hurt his ankle.

And Span’s streak? Only one other major leaguer had one longer than 20 games this year: Cuddyer with 27.

It’s been quite a year for many Twins — just not the ones in Minnesota.

Central Intelligence

Impressed that Detroit’s Anibal Sanchez has gone 31 starts without giving up more than one home run?

He’s not. From 2009 to ’11, he had 52 consecutive starts with one or zero homers for the Marlins.


The White Sox’s 60th win on Tuesday included Addison Reed’s 38th save, meaning he had a role in 63.3 percent of their successes.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the highest save-to-win percentage over a full season since Bryan Harvey saved 70.3 percent of the Marlins’ wins in 1993.


Ubaldo Jiminez’s 2.45 ERA for the Indians since late May is second-best in baseball, behind Bartolo Colon’s of the A’s.


With no playoff experience since 1985, K.C. fans got a shock when the Royals announced postseason ticket price increases of as much as 300 percent, and twice that should they go to the World Series.

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Houston 1 FINAL
Miami 1
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Minnesota 7
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Detroit 4
Baltimore - WP: T. Wilson 10 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: S. Baker 2
Boston 9 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Toronto 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 8
Atlanta 5 FINAL
Toronto 3
Washington 2 FINAL
NY Mets 10
Chicago Cubs 5 FINAL
Cincinnati 9
San Diego 3 FINAL
Texas 2
San Francisco 9 FINAL
Seattle 8
Colorado 4 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 18
Cleveland 3 FINAL
Milwaukee 2
Oakland 10 FINAL
Chicago WSox 4
Los Angeles 5 FINAL
LA Angels 4
Kansas City 10 FINAL
Arizona 5
Atlanta 100 FINAL
Charlotte 115
New York 80 FINAL
Chicago 111
Golden State 108 FINAL
Milwaukee 95
Oklahoma City 89 FINAL
Utah 94
Denver 78 3rd Qtr 0:18
Portland 86
Nashville 4 FINAL
Washington 3
Arizona 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
San Jose 3 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 2
Anaheim 3 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Boston 4
Tampa Bay 0 FINAL
Detroit 4
New Jersey 1 FINAL
Carolina 3
Florida 2 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 3
Ottawa 3 FINAL(OT)
Toronto 4
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Columbus 4 FINAL
St. Louis 2
Buffalo 3 FINAL
Colorado 5
Dallas 1 3rd Prd
Vancouver 2
Arizona 78 FINAL
Wisconsin 85
Canisius 73 FINAL
Notre Dame 66 FINAL
Kentucky 68
San Jose 1 FINAL
New England 2
Orlando City 2 FINAL
Montreal 2
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
D.C. 1
Sporting Kansas City 1 FINAL
New York City 0
Red Bull New York 2 FINAL
Columbus 1
Portland 1 FINAL
Vancouver FC 2
Colorado 0 FINAL
Houston 0
Seattle 0 FINAL
FC Dallas 0
Texas 54 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 105
Dayton 82 FINAL
(8) Louisville 66
(16) Duke 55 FINAL
(4) Maryland 65
Gonzaga 69 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 73
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