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.

Three Twins postgame thoughts from LEN3: A new pattern. The cleanup crew. Michael Tonkin

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: September 27, 2013 - 12:05 AM

Here are three thoughts following the Twins' 6-5 loss to Cleveland

1. I'VE BEEN HERE BEFORE: I'm falling into a pattern. 1. Enter other clubhouse to see what the vibe of a winning team is like. 2. Stumble upon former a Twins player. I walked into Oakland's clubhouse on Sunday and Grant Balfour was the second person I saw. On Wednesday, I entered the visitors clubhouse at Target Field and congratulated Torii Hunter for reaching the playoffs for the seventh time. On Thursday, I was waiting to talk to anyone from Cleveland (the players were having some post-game meeting), when Jason Kubel walked out. I forgot that Kubel was traded to the Indians. Ugh, just looked at this stats. A .167 batting average in eight games. But he said he's having a good time. Asked him what it's like to be in the thick of a pennant race. ``No big deal,'' he said. ``I'm used to coming down to the wire.'' Well, we'll see if Kubel can channel his inner Game 163 if Cleveland needs him this weekend.

2. WHAT A JOB BY.....The visiting clubhouse attendants at Target Field. That room was disaster zone when I walked out of it Wednesday night. As soon as one guy grabbed an empty bottle to throw it away, a player was bringing out two. And the cigars were firing up as I left. Puddles of beverages were forming on the floor. Walked in there today, and it was as if nothing had happened - although there was a quite a bit of air freshener wafting around.

3. MICHAEL TONKIN: The Twins know he has a good hard fastball. The Twins wanted him to use his other pitches, which he needs to do on this level. And Tonkin impressed on Thursday, striking out Nick Swisher and Carlos Santana with breaking balls. ``If he is able to use that with his fastball, that will be effective,'' Twins manager Ron Gardehire said. Tonkin is Kubel's brother-in-law, and the two planned to hang out during the series.

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