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.

Postgame: Vargas happy with his defense, too

Posted by: Phil Miller under MLB Updated: August 6, 2014 - 12:14 AM

    Some leftovers after the Twins improved their record (51-60) to a half-game better than the Padres' (51-61) by going 3-0 against San Diego this year:

    THIS ONE'S FOR YOU, MOM: It was Kennys Vargas' night, and you could just feel the energy in Target Field as fans realized they might have a new prospect to root for. Vargas' bubbly personality is sure to make him popular, particularly if he keeps crushing home runs the way he hit that laser tonight. Vargas had the ball in his locker after the game -- the Twins traded with the fan who caught it to get it back -- and said he plans to send it to his mother. "He's a strong young man. Got a big smile on his face, and he sure hit that ball a long ways," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "If I was that big, I'd have a lot of confidence too." The first three balls put in play by the Padres were hit at Vargas, and fielded them flawlessly -- something he didn't do in Chicago last Friday. "It's a lot different. At the first game, I was so excited and nervous, everything goes so fast," Vargas said. "Tonight, I was relaxed. I tried to enjoy the game."

    A CRACK IN THE FOUNDATION: Phil Hughes was already out of the game when the Twins rallied to deliver him a win, which is only fitting. Hughes didn't pitch horribly during his three-game losing streak, and he gave up only one run to the Padres, a team that came in off a sweep of the Braves. Hughes threw 100 pitches in going six innings, and would have gone another inning, but developed a cracked fingernail on the middle finger of his pitching hand. It's no problem, he said afterward, it's not uncommon when he's throwing a lot of curveballs, and normally takes only two or three days to grow out and heal. (And superglue takes care of it if the nail doesn't grow fast enough.) Mostly, Hughes was happy with his front-door cutter, which breaks late and catches the plate -- a pitch that five different Padres took for strike three. "I was able to put it where I wanted to for the most part," Hughes said. The Padres "felt they weren't getting the plate enough, but I was able to get the calls. I wasn't going to get away from it until I wasn't getting them."

    GREEN LIGHT: Jordan Schafer looks like the sort of player his manager is really going to appreciate. Well, as long as he hits. Schafter lined a single to right in his first at-bat as a Twin on Tuesday, and two pitches later (and after three pickoff attempts), he was standing on second base. That sort of aggressiveness can cost him, too; Schafer was thrown out trying to go to third on a grounder to short. But Gardenhire says he sometimes has to beg his baserunners to pick out a pitch and go, and Schafer won't require any such prodding. "He's what you look for. He has no fear about running," Gardenhire said. "I told him, '[you've got a] green light unless I stop you,' so he's ready to go." He also executed a sacrifice bunt in the seventh inning, and is a rangy outfielder with a good arm. Of course, he had all those things with the Braves, too, but lost his job because he hit .163. But he made a positive first impression on Tuesday.

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