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.

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.

Three postgame thoughts from LEN3: Liriano, Morneau, relievers

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: July 6, 2012 - 11:38 PM

Here are three things on my mind after watching the Twins beat Texas on Friday.

1. Frankie in jams: I still think he struggles some with runners on base, but he made more quality pitches tonight in  those situations than I've seen him make all season. For whatever reason, he's not as panicky in those situations. I asked Twins manager Ron Gardenhire if there was a speech he heard or some other life-changing moment, and he said there's wasn't. "I wish there was some big moment when the sun popped out on our heads and it was a bright and shining light, but no," Gardy said. "He just relaxed. He had some bullpens where he just went up there and wing it. As we got him back out there, he started doing that. He was just relaxing and saying, ‘Hit it.’ And a lot of times they can’t hit it. That ought to show him how good his stuff is.”

2. Morneau's splits: Justin Morneau entered Friday batting .098 against left-handed pitchers. But his RBI single in the third was off of lefthander Martin Perez. Morneau is 3-for-27 against lefties with runners in scoring position. For his career, he's batting .249 against lefties. I don't know if he's having trouble picking up the ball or hanging in there or what, but his career numbers suggest he won't be this bad forever. Notice that he hammered a 96-mile an hour fastball from Tanner Scheppers when the righthander entered the game in the seventh.

3. Relievers. It wasn't a save situation on Friday, but Gardy went to Jared Burton and Glen Perkins for the last 2.1 innings. "With that lineup in this ballpark, I never trusted anything here," Gardy said. "We needed to win the first one (of the series) tonight." Can't blame him for that, because he's starting Samuel Deduno and Cole De Vries in this ballpark the next two nights.







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