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.

Twins-White Sox pregame: Plouffe returns, and Logan Darnell starts

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III under Twins game coverage Updated: July 26, 2014 - 4:07 PM

If you're coming to tonight's Twins game against the White Sox, you'll want to arrive early for the giveaway. Trevor Plouffe, who sat out last night's 9-5 loss, returns to his spot at third base--just in time to see several thousand likenesses of his face on sticks, which will be handed out to fans. Here's how today's lineup looks:


1--Santana, CF

2--Dozier, 2B

3--Plouffe, 3B

4--Colabello, 1B

5--Willingham, LF

6--Arcia, RF

7--Suzuki, C

8--Nunez, DH

9--Escobar, SS

P--Logan Darnell (0-0, 0.00)


1--Eaton, CF

2--Ramirez, SS

3--Abreu, DH

4--Viciedo, RF

5--Konerko, 1B

6--Gillaspie, 3B

7--Flowers, C

8--De Aza, LF

9--Beckham, 2B

P--Chris Sale (9-1, 2.03)

Twins GM Terry Ryan said Friday how impressed he was by Darnell's debut with the Twins, a three-inning relief stint against Cleveland on May 6. He struck out one and threw 33 pitches. Darnell said his changeup is his go-to pitch, and he likes to use it early in the count to get hitters off-balance.

The laconic Tennessean certainly seemed relaxed Friday night as he discussed his first major-league start.  "It's the same mind frame as last time: just try to get each guy out,'' he said. "I learned (against Cleveland) you have to get outs in the strike zone. You have to throw it over the plate at some point to get them out. They don't chase as much. It's still the same game you played growing up; you've still got to make pitches and get people out.

"I think it helps that I've gotten people out before up here, but I've still got to go out there and do what I've always done. I'm a fastball-changeup pitcher. I like to use my changeup a lot; if I can get ahead and use my change, it makes my curveball and slider a lot better. It's easier for me to get guys out quicker.''

Darnell watched Friday's game from the clubhouse and noted that Chicago's hitters were aggressive early in the count, something he hopes to use to his advantage Saturday. "Getting ahead is key,'' he said. "I'm not going to shy away from throwing strikes.''

Manager Ron Gardenhire is hoping Darnell can hang in for several innings, with his beat-up bullpen still short on long relievers who are ready to go. Ryan Pressly could be available for two or three innings, he said, and Anthony Swarzak could be good for one. Darnell has gone at least six innings in three of his past four starts, including a complete game victory on June 29 and an eight-inning loss on July 9. Each of his past nine starts has lasted at least five innings.

Enjoy the game!



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