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.
With the Vikings set to open their season on the other side of downtown this afternoon, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of crowd the Twins draw for Game 3 of this four-game series with Cleveland.
Esmerling Vasquez will be making his second start for the Twins after taking a loss on Sept. 2 in Kansas City. The righthander allowed five runs on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings in that start.
The 28-year-old from the Dominican Republic is getting a chance to prove himself after going 4-2 with a 2.93 ERA in eight starts for Class AAA Rochester. In those starts, Vasquez racked up 48 strikeouts and 14 walks in 43 innings.
The Indians counter with righthander Corey Kluber, who held Minnesota to three runs (one earned) over six innings on Aug. 7.
Update: Josh Willingham is getting a scheduled day off. He's dealing with a hamstring issue, but he played the past two days and responded well. Manager Ron Gardenhire said there's a good chance Willingham will be back in the outfield Monday.
Also, without making a big announcement, the Twins have quietly made Glen Perkins their full-time closer. I'll have more on this for tonight's first editions, but here's a sampling of Gardenhire's quotes:
"I've said we’ll use [Jared] Burton on days when Perkins can’t go, the rest of this year, but I’ve got no problem with Perk being the closer. I like it. I like handing him the ball and seeing him go out and wing it -- lefties or righties it doesn’t matter."
1. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
2. Jason Kipnis, 2B
3. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
4. Michael Brantley, CF
5. Carlos Santana, 1B
6. Russ Canzler, LF
7. Brent Lillibridge, SS
8. Jason Donald, 3B
9. Lou Marson, C
Starting pitcher: RH: Corey Kluber (1-3, 4.79 ERA)
1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Jamey Carroll, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, DH
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Ryan Doumit, C
6. Chris Parmelee, RF
7. Darin Mastroianni, LF
8. Eduardo Escobar, 3B
9. Pedro Florimon, SS
Starting pitcher: RH Esmerling Vasquez (0-1, 7.94 ERA)
Target Field. First pitch: 1:10 p.m. TV: FSN. Twins Radio Network
Follow along on Twitter: @JoeCStrib
It seems like this always happens to me the day after the home opener. One day is filled with pageantry, and the next morning is spent devouring all the coverage in newspapers and web sites -- it's a lot to digest.
I went straight home from Target Field last night, skipping the postgame bar scene, yet as I get ready to write my off-day story, I'm still wiped. Call it my annual baseball hangover.
Besides seeing the Red Sox scribes, as we do all spring in Fort Myers, we had several national baseball writers in the press box yesterday -- Bob Nightengale from USA Today, Tyler Kepner from the New York Times, Phil Rogers from the Chicago Tribune, Scott Miller from CBSSportsline.com, Jon Paul Morosi from Foxsports.com, Jeff Passan from Yahoo, John Hickey from AOL.Fanhouse, Aaron Gleeman from NBCSports.com, Mike Bauman from MLB.com -- and my only regret is not having more time to catch up.
Oh well. It'll happen down the road. I'm sure they understand. Covering the opening of a new stadium, in your hometown, is a once-in-a-generation-type thing.
Meanwhile, we at the Strib dispatched an army to the ballpark. Curt Brown was on the scene for A1. Vikings writer Judd Zulgad was on the Budweiser Roof Deck. Rachel Blount was in the cheap seats. Phil Miller filed a minute-by-minute diary. Bob von Sternberg was a blogging fiend.
In the front row of the press box, I sat between La Velle and Souhan. To Souhan's right were Randball, Reusse and Sid. Seriously, this was a pinch-myself moment. Sportswriting -- specifically sportswriting for the Star Tribune -- has been my dream job since high school. I always pictured covering an event like this for the paper, but in my thoughts it was a hockey game at Mariucci Arena or the X. So you could say, this was everything I dreamed it'd be and more.
The best part was picking up the actual print edition today. Loyal online readers, today is one of those days I'd suggest plunking down 50 cents for a hard copy. Only then can you see the work of our award-winning page designers. Only then can you fully appreciate the work of our all-world photographers (Jeff Wheeler, Brian Peterson, Carlos Gonzalez, Elizabeth Flores, Jerry Holt, Renee Jones Schneider, Richard Tsong-Taatarii and David Brewster.)
Sports Editor Glen Crevier had the vision of a 10-page commemorative section, and Baseball Editor Dennis Brackin and Slot Editor Kevin Bertels somehow helped pull it all together. I know I'm leaving several people out. Our main headline today is "Opening Act is a Winner." Couldn't agree more.
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