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.

Postgame: Gardenhire furious, but not for the reasons you might think

Posted by: Phil Miller under Twins game coverage Updated: May 28, 2011 - 12:43 AM

Before Friday's game, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire talked about the mistakes his team simply can't afford to make -- base-running gaffes, mental lapses on defense, etc.

Watching a bullpen blow a 5-0, eighth-inning lead would leave any manager furious, but that's not what had Gardenhire at wit's end after the 6-5 loss to the Angels.

He was more focused on the following four moments:

* After taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning, the Twins had Alexi Casilla on third base with one out and failed to bring him home. Justin Morneau fouled out, and Michael Cuddyer lined out to end the inning.

* In the second inning, Danny Valencia hit a two-out single. When Drew Butera lined out to end the inning, Valencia was retreating to first base after forgetting the number of outs.

* In the fifth inning, Jason Kubel lined a two-run single, stretching the lead to 4-0. But standing on second base with the bases loaded, he forgot there was only one out, when Cuddyer hit what would have been a sacrifice fly to right field. Kubel ran to third, like there were three outs, and was easily doubled up at second base. That cost the Twins at least one run.

* The Angels eighth-inning rally started when Alex Burnett was late covering first base, as speedster Peter Bourjos reached on an infield single.

"All the things that you continue to talk about end up eating you up, and you lose a ballgame," Gardenhire said. "We have to turn the page. We have to try to come back tomorrow.

"Jason Kubel came in and told me he made a mistake, he screwed it up. I can handle that. That’s standing up and being accountable. We have to have more of that.

"Danny Valencia diving back to first base on a two-out line drive to second base -- that’s embarrassing. That stuff shouldn’t happen. We’re in the big leagues. It’s embarrassing. Those things right there have got to go away. We have to be a better baseball team than that.

"Baker gave us an opportunity to win a ballgame, a 5-0 lead and we can’t hold it. We made too many mistakes along the way. It should have been an eight- or nine-run game as far as I was concerned."

Some readers will say Gardenhire's wrath was misdirected on a night when the relievers started an eighth-inning fire and kept adding gasoline. But the bullpen is what it is.

"That’s who we have. That's who we are. That’s who has to pitch," Gardenhire said.

But it would be unacceptable for the 10th-year manager to let the team's standards slip when it comes to playing heads-up baseball.

Gardenhire has spoken at length with rookie shortstop Trevor Plouffe about playing more aggressively on defense. He has counseled Casilla about becoming the all-around player he can be. And he has been riding Valencia about his baserunning.

These are crucial lessons for players trying to establish themselves in the big leagues. Who knows where this team is headed record-wise? No matter how the season ends, some of these players will be a part of this team's future.

Maybe.

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