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 Twins postgame thoughts from LEN3: Gibson, first-inning runs, Fien on fire

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: June 29, 2013 - 8:18 PM


Here are three thoughts following the Twins' 6-2 win over Kansas City

1. GIBSON SOLID, NOT SPECTACULAR: Kansas City hit a few balls really hard that were run down by Twins fielders. And there were a couple plays (tough ones, I'll admit) I thought Pedro Florimon could have made. Overall, Gibson had a pretty good debut. He's definitely not a thrower. He wasn't predictable and really pounded Royals hitters inside. They kept swinging and fouling off pitches, so Gibson kept throwing them. ```I've been doing that a lot in Triple-A. Everyone told me to stay with your game plan and pitch the way you pitch. Joe and I had a pretty good plan to go in on most those guys and some of the lefties we worked away later. But I think going in early on them definitely opened up the fifth and sixth inning.’’ He did shake off Mauer a couple times, but said Mauer called a great game. A good first outing. Now, on to the Yankees.

2. EARLY RUN SUPPORT: The Twins' five-run first inning made it easier for Gibson to settle in. Boy, Wade Davis was terrible. He threw 69 pitches and recorded just three outs. According, that is the most ever. The Twins gladly accepted Wade's gifts and got off to a fast start. The Twins have now scored 44 first-inning runs, their second-most productive inning. ``Big help,'' Gibson said. ``Can't say enough about my teammates out there and getting a big lead early. It took a lot of pressure off. I was able to make pitches a little less fine-ness to them, you can say. The two runs I gave up...the five-run lead allowed those to not be as big.''

3. FIEN STEPS UP: The Twins' momentum was stopped by lefthander Will Smith, who replaced Davis. The Royals then loaded the bases in the eighth. Casey Fien replaced Brian Duensing with no outs and a runner on first base. Salvador Perez and Mike Moustakas singled to load the bases. The tying run was up. Fien found whatever he was missing and stuck out Lorenzo Cain and Miguel Tejada to end the inning. Fans rose to their feet before Fien struck out Tejada, and Fien stormed off the mound, pumping his fists and yelling as the crowd roared. ``When I got back to going with my cutter, it was easy pickings,'' Fien said. ``I was fortunate to get a couple first-pitch strike and I had them on defense. There's no better feeling than getting a strikeout with the whole crowd on their feet.''

BONUS THOUGHT: Gardy gave out two game balls. One with the Kyle Gibson, of course. One was given in mockery to Brian Duensing, who fell behind Eric Hosmer 3-2 in the eighth then threw the next pitch over his head. Hosmer ducked, then went to first. ``You couldn't beat that one,'' Gardy said.


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