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.

Postgame: Plouffe's replacements at third went 10-for-88

Posted by: Phil Miller under MLB Updated: June 15, 2013 - 12:52 AM

A couple of leftovers from another quiet night, offensively, for the Twins:

-- Trevor Plouffe will be back in Minneapolis on Saturday, and I'm guessing he'll be back in the lineup. The Twins went with their utility men while Plouffe was out with a concussion and a calf injury, but the offense definitely suffered. Eduardo Escobar and Jamey Carroll combined to go 10-for-88 in the 22 games Plouffe missed, with one RBI apiece. That's a .114 average and only one extra-base hit (none since May 23) from a position that's supposed to provide some sock. Plouffe might not be Mike Schmidt, but the Twins need him.

Adding Plouffe and subtracting Chris Herrmann does change a few things, however. For one thing, it probably means whoever plays second base, whether it's Carroll, Escobar or Brian Dozier, will be the leadoff hitter, almost by default. And it means Ron Gardenhire can no longer pull Ryan Doumit for a defensive substitute in the late innings; with only two catchers once more, he won't risk removing one from the game, in case the other is hurt.

-- It's sort of moot considering the Twins couldn't scratch out a run against Detroit, but amid the disastrous three-doubles outburst in the sixth inning came a Twins misplay that added to the mess. Ryan Doumit judged Prince Fielder's high, deep fly ball to be off the wall almost instantly, and he turned to get into position rather than racing back to try to catch it.

Tough call, especially on the run, but the ball bounced low enough for him to reach. But once Doumit reached the ball, he turned and fired it over cutoff man Brian Dozier's head. The ball carried to second base, and Miguel Cabrera, who wasn't running full speed around third until he saw the throw, scored from first base.

"I don't think Cabrera should have scored on that ball. We didn't make a relay play right there," Gardenhire said. "He had slowed up around third, but obviously we didn't get the ball in the right hands in the infield. An errant throw from the outfield got us twisted a little bit."

-- The middle of the Twins' lineup has looked exhausted for a couple of days. Josh Willingham's knees are bothering him a bit, Gardenhire said before the game, and maybe it's affecting his at-bats. Willingham is 3-for-26 (.115) over his last seven games, with eight strikeouts and no walks. Justin Morneau is 4-for-19 in six games, and one of them was his three-hit rescue of the Twins against Philadelphia on Tuesday; it's 1-for-15 in the others. Facing Cliff Lee and Rick Porcello is part of it, since both pitchers have a track record of effectiveness, obviously in Lee's case especially. But the Twins need to recharge their bats if they're going to stay in the A.L. Central race. They're 7 1/2 games out now.

-- And finally, a mea culpa: There's a bad statistic in my Twins' game story in Saturday's paper (I caught it a few minutes too late to make the press run). Prince Fielder is 12-for-19 in his last 21 plate appearances following a walk of any kind to Miguel Cabrera, not just intentional walks. But the point remains: It's a decision with no correct answer.

La Velle E. Neal III has the rest of the series, so check his blog, Twins Insider, and follow him on Twitter @lavelleneal.

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