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: No killer instinct, Francona, Santana

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: August 19, 2014 - 11:27 PM

Here are three thoughts following the Twins' 7-5 loss to Cleveland:

NO FOOT ON THROAT: The story from the game will be Kyle Gibson's inability to cruise with a five-run lead. He didn't have his good stuff but he also seemed to press at times when he should have relaxed and let the ball go.  But the Twins offense scored five runs before making THEIR FIRST OUT OF THE GAME. Then nothing. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer really didn't do much different after the first inning. So the offense should have kept pouring on and knocked Bauer out of the game earlier. That might have stopped Francona from going matchup crazy later in the game. ``We still had some chances,'' Gardenhire said. ``You score like that, that's when you bury someone. We didn't bury them.''

THE MAD SCIENTIST MANAGER: Cleveland manger Terry Francona went wild with pitching changes in the seventh inning. The madcap menagerie of matchups was one reason why the game lasted well over three hours. Francona used four pitchers - Scott Atchison, Mark Rzepczynski, CC Lee and Nick Hagadone - to get through the inning. And Bryan Shaw was warming up as Mauer faced Hagadone. I'm sure Shaw would have come in if Mauer had reached base, but his sharp grounder was gobbled up for the final out of the inning. ``Francona, I didn't know you had that many relievers,'' Gardenhire said.

BUNTING: We've just seen Jordan Schafer have his moments while trying to get bunts down. It a key situation on Tuesday, no outs and runners on first and second in the seventh, Danny Santana fouled off two bunt attempts then struck out in what was a horrible at-bat. What's up with the bunting? Players should be more polished than this when they come up. When Michael Bourn doubled to lead off the fifth, Mike Aviles followed and got the first pitch down along the first base line for a perfect sacrifice bunt. ``Danny has to be able to do those things,'' Gardenhire said. ``You want to play in this league and you're a leadoff hitter. He can hit a home run, yes. And he's hitting .320, yes. But he's got to be able to bunt it. He might bunt it and get a base it. He's got to do that.''  I remember when Coco Crisp first came up - with Cleveland - he couldn't bunt either. The Indians had him bunt every pitch during his first round of batting practice to he would get used to doing it. And he became a weapon for him - until he decided to try to hit home runs. But you get the point.....


 

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