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-Royals: Trying to avoid a sweep

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: April 20, 2014 - 11:55 AM

Hello from Kauffman Stadium, where the Twins will have their hands full in trying to avoid a reverse facial sweep at the hands of the Kansas City Royals.

Reverse facial comes from Al Newman, who used the term to describe putting up crooked numbers the next inning after the opponent did the same to you. I'm extending it to series. The Twins swept the Royals at Target Field a week ago but face the same fate today. And they are facing Yordano Ventura, whose fastballs  average 97 on the gun. Averages.

Win or lose, the Twins will be disappointed leaving here. They had a chance to establish some momentum coming off the doubleheader sweep on Thursday but failed. Yesterday, they faced a lefty for the second straight day and failed. Now they get Future Ace Ventura.

Rough game for the outfield yesterday, which I mentioned in my Three Thoughts blog. That led to some interesting comments from readers. I agree, the Twins will have some tough decisions to make when Willingham and Arcia are healthy. Jason Kubel and Chris Colabello have provided some punch to this lineup and they don't deserve to be kicked to the curb when the others are ready to play.

There was a lot of talk about Aaron Hicks' catch over Chris Colabello on Saturday, but the kid is struggling. Gardy pointed out that Hicks was slow to back up Jason Kubel when Kubel lost Alex Gordon's fly ball in the sun in the second inning as well as Gordon's pop up that Brian Dozier caught in the fifth. And Hicks struck out twice in four plate appearances as his batting average dipped to .179. But they are committed to letting Hicks play through it - although there were a lot of coaches on his case yesterday about outfield hustle.

But Gardy said it was like Hicks was in, ``a fog,'' yesterday.

I'm starting to get questions about Hicks giving up left-handed hitting. I have not heard anything about the Twins considering that, and I would be stunned if they did that during the season.

One small news item. It looks like Kyle Gibson is getting a promotion. The pitching matchups for the series against Tampa Bay are out, and Gibson has moved ahead of Mike Pelfrey in the order. This was made possible by the rainout on Wednesday (snowout? freezeout?) that pushed Pelfrey back into a doubleheader with Gibson. So the Twins had the option of picking one to open the series, and it's Gibson.

Twins (8-9)

Brian Dozier, 2B
Joe Mauer. C
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Chris Colabello, RF
Jason Kubel, LF
Josmil Pinto, DH
Kurt Suzuki, C
Aaron Hicks, CF
Eduardo Escobar, SS

Pitching: Phil Hughes, RHP

Royals (9-7)

Nori Aoki, RF
Omar Infante, 2B
Eric Hosmer, 1B
Salvador Perez, C
Alex Gordon, LF
Billy Butler, DH
Mike Moustakas, 3B
Jason Maxwell, CF
Alcides Escobar, SS

Pitching: Yordano Ventura, RHP

Bottom 8th123456789RHE
Detroit22000000 4110
Minnesota30000300 6110
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
HR: DET- None MIN- None

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Los Angeles - LP: C. Frias 2 FINAL
Colorado - WP: J. De La Rosa 16
San Francisco - WP: S. Romo 4 FINAL
Arizona - LP: A. Reed 2
Boston - LP: C. Buchholz 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: F. Liriano 9
Toronto - LP: J. Happ 1 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: B. Norris 6
Washington - LP: R. Detwiler 1 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: A. Wood 3
Miami - WP: H. Alvarez 4 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: D. Gee 3
NY Yankees - WP: B. McCarthy 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: A. Cobb 2
Cincinnati - LP: D. Corcino 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: K. Hendricks 3
Chicago WSox - LP: C. Sale 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: Y. Ventura 6
Cleveland - WP: C. Carrasco 2 FINAL
Houston - LP: B. Oberholtzer 0
Detroit 4 Bottom 8th Inning
Minnesota 6
Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers 0 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: A. Wainwright 2
Seattle 0 Bottom 4th Inning
LA Angels 0
Texas 0 Bottom 4th Inning
Oakland 0
Philadelphia 0 Top 4th Inning
San Diego 0
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Atlanta
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
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