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: Frankie, The HAMMER and THE Hammer

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: June 20, 2012 - 10:11 PM

Here are three thoughts following the Twins' 2-1 win over Pittsburgh

1. This is more like it, Frankie: I wasn't impressed with his start against the Brewers when he frequently fell behind in the count despite throwing a no-hitter for six innings. Tonight, Frankie knew where his pitches were going. He was down in the zone most of the night. He set up hitters. He looked like a pitcher. His next start will be a big test. No more A's, Royals and Pirates offenses. He'll have to prove it against the Pale Hose.

2. How about the HAMMER? Josh Willingham is the consummate masher. His plan is simple. Look for a pitch middle in and crush it. He rarely deviates from that. He got a hold of another one in the eighth inning on Wednesday for his 14th homer. "I've been fortunate enough to be in some key situations for us," he said. "Sometimes I've come through, and sometimes I haven't. You always want to be in that situation, whether you do the job or not. I've been able to get some big hits for us this year, and it feels good."

3. Here comes THE Hammer: I can't wait to watch James McDonald pitch on Thursday. The Pirates righthander broke in with the Dodgers and throws a HUGE breaking ball. Seriously, it will leave the screen - if you're watching the game - and come back over the plate for strikes.

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