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.

Three Twins postgame thoughts from LEN3: Gibson, Morales, Seattle rotation, BONUS

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: July 10, 2014 - 1:09 AM


Here are three thoughts after the Twins' 8-1 win over Seattle"

GIBSON: I like to keep track of first-pitch strikes during games. To me, it's one way of determining if a pitcher is giving himself a chance. I was writing b-b-b-b-b next to Gibson's opponents. Ugh. He gets a nice early cushion, so the game is set up for him to go seven solid innings. ``I don't think he had his best stuff tonight,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, ``but he made do with what he had.'' Gibson was removed after six innings and 91 pitches. I wondered on twitter why he couldn't get another inning with such a big lead, but Gardy and Andy felt he had to battle to get to that point, he can leave with a shutout, so they pulled him. That whole shutout thing is evolving, anyway. But back to that first-strike thing, because Gibson brought up the subject after the game. ``I came in here laughing because I love pitching here but one of the bad things is that they put first pitch strikes on the scoreboard. When you walk in after six innings and see that you've thrown seven first-pitch strikes to 26 guys is kind of embarrassing.'' Gibson went to his offspeed when he could and got Seattle hitters to chase some sliders down and in. That allowed him to pitch as long as he did. Plus it's the Mariners.

KENDRYS MORALES: A few Twins had good days at the plate on Wednesday, but Morales was one for four with 3 RBI. Two run scored on a grounder down the first base line that was ruled an error on Logan Morrison, who never touched the ball. I think the Twins are going to look into getting that changed. Anyway,  Morales is 4-for-11 in the series and has hit a few balls on the nose. After nose-diving a week after joining the club, Morales looks like he's heating up. ``I think he’s getting the barrel out there pretty good,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``Looks like his timing is getting there where he’s getting the bat head through. He put some really nice swings out there. That’s going to be big for us.’’

WHAT WILL SEATTLE DO?: The Mariners are pushing back Felix Hernandez a day so he can face the A's. So they are starting Tom Wilhelmsen, normally a reliever, tomorrow and will use the bullpen the rest of the way. They ended up using three relievers tonight, including Brandon Maurer, who was believed to be in line to follow Wilhelmsen tomorrow. Seattle has nine relievers on the roster right now but still might make a roster move before tomorrow's series finale. Things could get interesting if the Twins bats get rolling early a second straight night. Seattle waited until today to officially announce Thursday's starter, but Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon and Gardy are old friends who go back to the minors, and McClendon kept Gardy informed of their decision-making.

BONUS STATS: Twins have won four of their last six at Safeco Field...Robinson Cano's RBI in the seventh snapped the Twins' scoreless innings pitched against Seattle at 16...the Twins have scored eight or more runs in a game 11 times this season...Cano has a nine-game hitting streak against the Twins.


 

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