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 postgame thoughts from LEN3: Plouffe, Liriano, Dozier

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: June 16, 2012 - 12:07 AM

Here are three quick thoughts following the Twins' 5-3 loss to Milwaukee on Friday:

1. Plouffe's power: We're finally seeing it. When Plouffe was tearing up the International League last year, Pawtucket hitting coach - and former Twin - Chili Davis told Twins manager Ron Gardenhire that Plouffe was the best hitter in the league. When Plouffe touches the ball, it goes. And he's taking advantage of mistakes and doing a better job of getting into hitter's counts. Isn't it fun to watch when a player starts to figure some things out? "He’s swinging the bat well right now," Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo said. "It’s obvious that’s he hot. He’s hitting every mistake. The first home run I just left a fastball up in the zone and he took advantage of it. The second one, he fouled off some pretty good pitches. Like I said, when you’re hot, you’re hot. Change-up was down just came back over the middle."

2. Liriano was in the middle of the shakiest no-no ever. He hit Rickie Weeks, almost killed Norichika Aoki and walked four batters. He walked Carlos Gomez twice, and Go-Go has four walks all year coming into the game. He had thrown 107 pitches. There was no way Liriano was going to stay in the game with a no-hitter. The three-run homer Ryan Braun hit in the sixth was a reflection of how Liriano pitched. He has the tools but can't put it together. "He’s got no-hitter stuff, almost at all times," Braun said. "It’s just a matter of command."

3. Good for Dozier. The kid needed some positive reinforcement at the plate and came through with the second three-hit game of his career. Hopefully, that will get him going.

3a. Morneau update: Justin Morneau said he hurt his forearm during his third at-bat on Thursday. He's said it's still sore but improved today. He's going to see how it feels on Saturday before deciding to attempt any swings.

3b. Slama out. Heard late tonight that Class AAA Rochester Anthony Slama has a broken bone in his right leg and will miss four to six weeks. He broke it last week when hit by a comebacker off the bat of Miguel Tejada. Too bad for Slama, who has a 0.40 ERA in 20 appearances.

 

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