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.

Postgame: How the Twins held off the Angels

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: July 23, 2013 - 2:21 AM

There was a lot of action in the late innings Friday  - and a lot of things that didn't compute if you were a Twins fan.

Like Glen Perkins, a closer, for the Twins, entering a game in the eighth inning.

Like Clete Thomas, again, following in the long line of Twins outfielders to break hearts by stealing home runs.

Like Samuel Deduno, who came up with a unique way to rope himself in when in a jam.

Finally, the Twins turning back the Rally Monkey as they held off the Angels 4-3 after Perkins got the final two outs by striking out Albert Pujols and Howie Kendrick as an announced crowd of 33,363 waved stuffed monkeys and breathed hot air down the closer's back.

Perkins pounded his fist into his glove after Kendrick missed a 95 mile an hour fastball to end the game. The Twins opened their seven-game road trip with a win and have won five of their last six games.

``A nice win for us.'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, ``and a good way to start the road trip.''

Up 4-2 with two outs and two on in the eighth, Gardenhire went to something he's rarely tried -bringing in his closer in the eighth inning. But in came Perkins, who promptly gave up a RBI single to pinch hitter Collin Cowgill to make the score 4-3. Then Chris Ianetta hammered Perkins' first pitch to the wall in left - and it was headed over the fence.

But Thomas scrambled back and jumped at the wall to keep the ball from clearing the fence.

``Instead of being down two in the ninth we're up by one,'' Thomas said. ``We're saving runs. It was crazy I was kicking myself for not getting the run in (earlier in the inning) then I go out and save a run. Just adrenaline running. Got to make sure nothing gets in.''

Perkins came back out for the ninth. Erick Aybar attempted to bunt his way on but third baseman Trevor Plouffe made a nice play to throw him out. J.B. Shuck hit a broken bat single. Mike Trout blopped a single to down the right field line (Brian Dozier was flying after the ball and appeared to overrun it). That put two on, and Perkins was in the...percolator. But Perkins got both Pujols and Kendrick with fastballs to end the game.

``I just felt at that time - it was the first game of a road trip - I thought it was important to try to win this thing and you put your best pitcher out there,'' said Gardenhire, who. didn't rule out trying it again.

Joe Mauer was 3-for-4. Thomas homered and doubled. Aaron Hicks had two hits.

Deduno went seven innings, and a chunk of it wasn't pretty as gave up four hits and he walked five batters. But he held the Angels to just two runs because he came up with pitches when he needed them. He threw first-pitch strikes to just 11 of the 29 batters he faced.

``I feel confident that he left me in pitching.'' Deduno said.

He was impressive in the seventh when he gave up a leadoff triple to Hank Conger - O.K. after Conger went to third because the ball got away from Ryan Doumit in right field. Deduno shakes it off and strikes out Aybar. Then he struck out Shuck - but wait.

Replays showed that Deduno unknowingly put the chain he wears around his neck into his mouth. It looked like a bridle and he was trying to control himself. He struck out Shuck with the rope in his mouth, then got out of the inning. Deduno said he doesn't remember putting the rope in his mouth.

``We got pictures of it,'' Gardenhire said. ``We were all watching it. Everyone was giving him grief about it. That's the way it is. We said he does a lot of crazy things.''

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