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's chewing, Youkilis, Mauerness

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: June 26, 2012 - 12:16 AM

 

The Twins are 7.5 games back of the division-leading White Sox. I could not bring myself to put that in my story for the dead tree edition. It does not reflect how the season had gone for the Twins.

I mean, what a division. The Twins have 10 more games against division opponents and could tighten things up even more. If Liriano is going to suddenly be the pitcher we expected him to be, if Scott Diamond is the truth, they have a.......nope, I'm not going to cue the McFadden and Whitehead music just yet.

I am going to offer three thoughts from tonight's game:

1. Is it the gum, Frankie?: Francisco Liriano has been chewing bubble gun lately, and some are wondering if it's helping him calm down and relax on the mound. "I just started the last couple of starts," he said. "I don't know why." No, I don't seriously believe it's true, but that's an indication of how bad things were for him about a month ago. We're all wondering if he's had some sort of epiphany, or if he just got to a point where he was able to build his confidence back up. If he can start going six, seven innings each outing, that's huge for the bullpen. "It was a lot for me to throw seven innings tonight," he said.

2. Youkilis changes his Sox. I made myself chuckle by writing that. I remember when Carlton Fisk left Boston for Chicago, and I was mad that none of the local papers used, "Fisk changes his Sox" for a headline. I was 15 years old and mad. Anyway,  Kevin Youkilis was 1-for-4 in his White Sox debut but admitted that he was distracted during the game, especially when Red Sox highlights were shown on the big screen. Chicago had the worst third base production in baseball. He will help, but by how much?

3. Mauer....here it comes. Joe Mauer is not hitting home runs. But the hits are falling. He entered tonight's game batting .415 in June, the third highest batting average in baseball among players who have played as much as he has, All he did tonight was go 3-for-4 with a RBI and is now batting .323 on the season. He's batting .455 over his last 10 games. And, unless someone I'm not aware of becomes eligible tomorrow, Mauer now leads the AL in on base percentage.  

 

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