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.

Morneau says collapsing Twins can't afford to look too far ahead

Posted by: Phil Miller under Twins game coverage, Rookies Updated: August 26, 2011 - 11:44 PM

When Justin Morneau speaks, people listen because he usually brings the unvarnished truth. The Twins have scored five runs combined over the past six games -- all losses, at Target Field.

They are 21 games under .500 for the first time since 2000.

Morneau was one of the first players by his locker when the media entered the clubhouse after Friday's 8-1 loss to Detroit.

"I’ve never been a part of anything like this," he said. "Definitely not going to get used to it. ... We need to find a way to get ourselves out of it and finish the year strong, not just be satisfied with looking toward next year.

"We still have a month left in the season, and guys are fighting for jobs next year, guys are trying to prove that they belong, and there’s a lot of stuff that can be done this year. When you start looking toward next year, that’s when you get in trouble. We still have a lot of games left. We’ve gotta finish strong."

Does he feel like the effort's there?

"Oh, definitely," Morneau said. "I think we’ve done more work this year than we’ve done in a long time. With all the young guys here, we're having [early defensive workouts] pretty much every day, early hitting, it’s definitely not from a lack of effort.

"If you look around, you don’t see too many teams that have four rookies in the starting lineup; it’s not an excuse, it’s just the reality. It’s all part of the game. It’s hard to win when everyone’s trying to learn. That’s not a reason for [the losing]. Like I said, the guys in the middle [of the order] have to be better, and the guys that are supposed to get it done need to get it done."

How can they turn it around for the final 31 games?

"I need to play the way I’m capable of playing; that’s the first thing," Morneau said. "It’s just gotta be simple. Getting guys over, getting guys in, stealing a base when we need to, take the extra base, go from first to third. All the little things that good teams do. Not giving too many outs.

"You give a major league team 28 outs, you’ve got a chance, but when you give them 29-30, it’s hard. Good teams will take advantage of that."

Morneau, who is batting .219 with four homers and 29 RBI, said it's natural for guys to put too much pressure on themselves during stretches like this.

"I think when the flood gates open, it’s going to be a lot of fun, but we’ve just gotta simplify it," he said. "Instead of trying to get everybody in, we’ve gotta make sure we get one guy in. When we get a runner on third with less than two outs, we’ve gotta make sure we get that ball to the outfield in the air.

"Instead of trying to do more, we’ve gotta try to do less."

Saturday's a good day to try a new approach. Justin Verlander will be on the mound for Detroit. What do the Twins have to lose?

ADVERTISEMENT

more twins blogs

See all similar bloggersFull story

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT