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-Jays: Thome returns, but is it enough these days?

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: October 1, 2010 - 6:00 PM

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, after last night's game, realized that the Ryder Cup would be on at around 2 a.m.

``I'll probably watch it. I'll probably be wide awake,'' he said.

I ran into him walking through the clubhouse this afternoon and asked if he watched any golf last night.

``Unfortunately, I watched a lot of it,'' he said.

The Twins rut' has him up late at night wondering when his pitchers will turn things around. Francisco Liriano struggled on Thursday, and his relievers were worse. He can't run Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Brian Fuentes and others into the ground, so some other pitchers have to eat up some innings. But they are being eaten up instead.

Carl Pavano is on the mound for the Twins tonight, trying to head into the playoffs with a little momentum. Unfortunately, Pavano gave up six runs to the Jays in two starts at Rogers Center earlier this year,

Bad thing: Justin Morneau was supposed to stretch and work out with the team today but there is no sign of him.

Good thing: Jim Thome, who hasn't played since the Twins clinched, is back in the lineup today.

Bad thing: I'm hearing Mauer's knee will be something he'll have to fight through the rest of the season. Never good news when a team's best player won't be at 100 percent for the big games. Mauer is catching tonight, so he's well enough to do that. But anyone who watched him run to first last night saw someone who isn't at full strength.

One more bad thing: It's getting so rough on Gardenhire that his family is on his case. His younger brother sent him the following cruel joke: ``I heard the Vikings are looking to make you the defensive coordinator. That way they'll give up just 10 points a game.''

Updates Thome is in the lineup, but just for two plate appearances so he can get some swings in. Mauer is catching Pavano because he hasn't done much of it this year. Gardy said Mauer will stay in the game as long as Pavano is on the mound.

Orlando Hudson tweaked an ankle yesterday but Gardy said he was fine and he just wanted to give Hudson a night off. Jon Rauch has indicated to the coaching staff that he should be ready for the ALDS. He'll test his sore left knee during a bullpen session either Monday or Tuesday.

Toronto (83-76)

1. Travis Snider, LF
2. Yunel Escobar, SS
3. Jose Bautista, RF
4. Vernon Wells, CF
5. Lyle Overbay, 1B
6. Aaron Hill, 2B
7. Adam Lind, DH
8. John Buck, C
9. Edwin Encarnacion, 3B

Ricky Romero, LHP


Twins (93-66)

1. Denard Span, CF
2. J.J. Hardy, SS
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Delmon Young, LF
5. Jim Thome, DH
6. Michael Cuddyer, 1B
7. Jason Kubel, RF
8. Danny Valencia, 3B
9. Nick Punto, 2B.

Carl Pavano, RHP

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