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: Twins getting a little swagger back

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III under On the road Updated: July 24, 2013 - 11:31 AM

 

It was around 6 p.m. Pacific time. Chris Herrmann was shagging balls in right field. Kyle Gibson was in the clubhouse, getting ready for the pitchers and catchers meeting. Joe Mauer was in the middle of batting practice.

Rod McCormick, the Twins clubhouse attendant, rushed to the field to tell manager Ron Gardenhire that Maddie Mauer had called looking for her husband. And the wheels started rolling.

Mauer was in the clubhouse with traveling secretary Mike Herman, who was arranging a charter flight back to the Twin Cities. Gardenhire waved Herrmann over and told him that was starting behind the plate. Gibson prepared to throw to someone else.

Mauer, normally pulse-less in pressure situations, wasn't this time.

``That's probably the least calm I've seen him,'' said closer Glen Perkins. ``He was pacing around pretty good. Mike had gotten up to do something, and he was like, `Where's Mike? Where's Mike?' I was the same way, when we had our second one I was in Kansas City.''

Mauer was off to the airport, and a Twins lineup already down a few quarts of experience, looked even less lethal. But it erupted at the end, bailing out Perkins, who had blown a save in the bottom of the ninth, to win 10-3 in 10 innings. The Twins have won six of their last seven and have won their last three series.

This team is ballin' a little right now.

``We have some confidence right now,'' Gardenhire said. ``Guys are getting after the game. Just happy more so than anything else. The defense has just been outstanding. We are making plays all over the field and that is fun to watch and guys are getting as excited about the defense as it is scoring runs.
``That's what baseball is supposed to be about. Both sides of the ball.''

It was another reminder that anything can happen when you go to the ballpark.

Perkins came on in the ninth with the Twins leading 3-2 and looking for his 25th save but walked three batters, with the third one - issued to the unwalkable Erick Aybar - forcing in the tying run. Perkins entered the game with a 1.66 ERA and 24 saves in 26 chances. Over his previous 19 appearances he had walked one without giving up an earned run. He was coming off a four-out save on Monday and pronounced himself ready to roll on Tuesday.

Los Angeles sent Frieri, his 2.76 ERA and 24 saves to the mound for the tenth. Boy, did the Twins get after him.
Jamey Carroll and Justin Morneau reached with singles, then Ryan Doumit smoked a RBI double to left-center, scoring Carroll with the lead run. Josh Roenicke got up in the bullpen to warm up for the bottom of the inning - his first save as a Twin.

Thomas came to the plate, but with Herrmann on deck the Angels elected to go after the rookie. Made sense - for a minute.
Hermann got hold of a 2-1 slider and sent it into the seats in left for the Twins' first grand slam of the season and an 8-3 Twins lead. It was the Twins' first extra-inning grand slam on the road since Cesar Tovar in 1969.

As the announced crowd of 39,177 came to grips with what happened, Pedro Florimon socked a two-run shot to right to make it 10-3. Roenicke gave up a hit in the 10th but got through it to wrap of the game.

Herrmann was 3-for-5. Thomas, Doumit, Morneau and Carroll each had two hits. The Twins go for the sweep tomorrow....er...in a few hours.

Mauer left the Twins to go see about his twins. He'll be placed on the paternity leave list and will be replaced by Drew Butera, who will fly in early Wednesday morning from Class AAA Rochester. There was speculation that Oswaldo Arcia would get the call, but Gardenhire mentioned that Arcia was removed from Tuesday's game for not running hard to first base. And assistant General Manager Rob Antony confirmed that Arcia was not removed because of injury.

Butera will join a team that's playing with a little swagger.

``We have been playing some really good baseball, the last week and a half,'' Gibson said. ``It's been a fun clubhouse and everyone has a lot of confidence.''

And a tip of the cap to Perkins, who waited  at his stall for anyone who had questions. On a night like tonight, he could have slipped out unnoticed.

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