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.

Pregame: Vargas puts on a show, but Lester awaits

Posted by: Phil Miller under MLB Updated: August 7, 2014 - 8:07 PM

    OAKLAND, Calif. -- If nothing else, Kennys Vargas may convince fans to show up a little early for Twins game in the future. His batting practice sessions are already entertaining.

    Taking swings in his first visit to O.co Coliseum, Vargas launched a handful of towering blasts that had the early arrivals cheering, including one rocket that bounced off the window of a football luxury suite, probably 50 feet above the outfield wall. It's impressive.

    But it's also meaningless, two hours before game time, because Vargas and his Twins teammates won't be facing a batting-practice pitcher tonight, the first of a four-game series with the A's. They get Jon Lester, Oakland's newly acquired lefthanded ace, a pitcher who has already held them this season to one run on four hits in Fenway Park. Minnesota actually has had some OK success in the past against Lester -- he's 2-4 with a 4.41 ERA in nine career starts against the Twins -- but now he's pitching in front of a better defense, in a more spacious ballpark.

    "He's a good one, a big horse. He just keeps pouring it in there," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He cuts it, [has a] nice little changeup, a breaking ball. He's a very competitive pitcher."

    The Twins will start Yohan Pino, who has lasted at least six innings in four of his last five starts. Here are tonight's lineups for the 9:10 p.m. CT start:

 

TWINS

 

Santana CF

Dozier 2B

Plouffe 3B

Willingham LF

Vargas DH

Arcia RF

Suzuki C

Colabello 1B

Escobar SS

 

Pino RHP

 

A'S

 

Crisp CF

Jaso DH

Donaldson 3B

Moss LF

Norris C

Reddick RF

Callaspo 2B

Vogt 1B

Sogard SS

 

Lester LHP

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