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.

Twins-Rangers: The morning after blog

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: July 9, 2012 - 11:10 AM


The Twins could have left Texas with three wins but lost the last two games of their series in extra innings. That includes Sunday night's 4-3, 13-inning punch to the gut.

The Twins did everything right for eight and a half innings before Brian Dozier and Glen Perkins made critical mistakes  in the ninth that allowed the Rangers to score three runs to tie the game. The bullpen did fairly well until Texas to Alex Burnett in the 13th.

Dozier mishandled a routine grounder to start the ninth, then compounded the problem by throwing wildly to first base, allowing Ian Kinsler to advance to second. Dozier, who was a stand up guy after the game, was very frustrated with himself. He was able to shake off the error and make a good play later in extra innings.

"It's very tough because of the fact that, looking back, it kind of cost us the ballgame," Dozier said. "At the same time, you have to stay focused and routine plays are supposed to be made all the time."

I can see Dozier getting more days off once the schedule picks back up, but there are no indications that Dozier is in danger of losing his job. Jamey Carroll is doing nothing at the plate right now. And I talked to one scout who said that Pedro Florimon, while a good defensive player at Class AAA Rochester, won't hit in the majors. 

Perkins, who also was stand-up after the game, said he didn't have his good slider but still felt he could compete last night. The 0-2 slider to Michael Young was horribly hung. If he gets the ball down, there's a good chance the ball it hit on the ground. Instead, it was a tie game.

"I had everybody down two strikes and didn't finish them off," Perkins said.

What a way to head into the break. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire spoke before the game about what has gone right for the team so far this season, and felt that better starting pitching could put them in position to make a run during the final 77 games.

For that to happen, nights like Sunday can't happen.

They are 36-49 and 11 games behind Chicago in the AL Central. Last year at the break, they were seven games under .500 and  61/2 games back. The deficit is bigger than a year ago, and their starting pitching is much more unstable.

There should be no debate over what this team needs to do at the trade deadline.

THUNDERSHOCK

I would have made a bigger deal about this if the game would have ended earlier, but the thunderclap that hit near the stadium in the fourth inning was the loudest I've ever heard.

The reactions of the players on the field were incredible. Ryan Doumit, the batter, and Mike Napoli, the catcher, ran straight to their dugouts. Josh Willingham dropped to the ground. First base coach Jerry White tried to duck behind first base umpire Jeff Kellogg. Third base coach Steve Liddle was a blur as he fled for cover.

The groundscrew scrambled to unroll the tarp, but it didn't start to rain for another 5-7 minutes after that. But that loud noise sent everyone into motion.

"That's the loudest noise I've ever heard," Twins outfielder Denard Span tweeted during the weather delay. "I thought Jesus was comin!"

Word is that the bolt apparently hit pavement between the stadium and a small pond across the street. That's not confirmed but, if true, that's too close.

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