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.

Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Three Twins postgame thoughts from LEN3: May, Vargas, Lineup of the near future

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: September 4, 2014 - 12:07 AM


Here are three thoughts following the Twins' 11-4 win over the White Sox

INTRODUCING THE REAL TREVOR MAY: I think I posted something recently about young pitchers needing a few starts to show what they have, and we might have seen that with Trevor May for five innings tonight. He got ahead in the count, was down around the knees, got hitters to chase with two strikes and showed that his pitches do have some quality movement. It took May five starts to show how good his stuff is. He said a lot of interesting stuff after the game, so I'm just going the get out of the way and let him talk. ``Stuff was sharper,'' he said. ``I felt more confident throwing everything for strikes. Being able to use all your pitches at any (time in the count) was big. It wasn't as sharp as I have been, but sharper.
``I've kind of gotten off of the mechanical things I've worked on all year since being off the DL (at Rochester). I got away with it a little bit there. Up here, it became a glaring thing. I didn't have any angle on the ball, everything was flat. and I know that is not how I usually am. I've been working so hard to get that angle back and stay tall longer through the delivery. It's tuff you've heard people say before.
``Especially when it is later in the season and the legs are getting less and less under you, it's something you have to constantly be on and make sure you are doing. The last four days, that's all I've been hammering in and I took out on the mound, at least for the first 4-1/3 innings. Toward the end you have longer innings and you start to lower again and things get a little flatter and I think that's what accounted for the fifth inning run.
``I really feel like I'm closer to five, six, seven (innings in a row) stringing some zeroes.''

VARGAS, WOW: Kennys Vargas has hit six home runs in 32 games since being called up from the Class AA New Britain. On Wednesday, he hit his first home run from the right side, and was estimated at 429 feet, landing in the second deck. Vargas has 31 RBI in his first 31 MLB games. He's hitting .349 over his last 14 games. His 28 RBI since Aug. 1 are tied for the forth most in baseball, behind Victor Martinez, Chris Carter and Giancarlo Stanton. He has 23 homers and 94 RBI on the second, including his work in New Britain. He's had great exposure to MLB pitching. He'll have status when he goes back and plays winter ball in Puerto Rico. He'll continue to work on his body. He seems to have the right attitude about it all. He could be scary.

AS FOR THE LINEUP: The lineup of the near future is looking good, as the Twins have moved into fifth in the league in runs scored. They have scored more runs than the Orioles, Royals, Nationals, Cardinals and Dodgers - and all those teams are in first place. The first five hitters - Santana, Dozier, Mauer, Vargas and Arcia - look like a core that, moving forward, can cause problems. The White Sox reporters were comparing the impact Santana and Vargas have had to Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu. And if Hicks can come around and be a factor next year,  that's another speed guy for the lineup. A coach told me that this is the most focused he has seen Hicks. And Hicks is even thinking about playing winter ball. All of this, of course, doesn't matter without pitching. Change doesn't come until the Twins get their starting pitching figured out. But it looks like they have the bats.

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