Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.
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Joe Mauer went 1-for-3 on Thursday.
He has at least one hit in his last eight games at Target Field, hitting .423 in that time. He's hitting .424 at Target Field in his last 16 games with a .521 on-base percentage.
He's hitting .378 at Target Field this season. Entering last night's game, he ranked second in the AL and third in baseball in home average.
He's hit only two of his six home runs at home.
The dimensions of Target Field, with a deep leftfield fence, limit his power production.
The Twins are 29-34, and I'm not sure how their record is even that good.
Their rotation hasn't been good enough. Their fielders lack range. They don't have speed to create runs. They have only one true home-run hitter on the team, Josh Willingham, and his 10 home runs are offset by the slump that has reduced his average to .214.
The bullpen has been the team's strength, but the bullpen tends to be most important for good teams that frequently attain leads.
Wrote about closer Glen Perkins for the Friday paper. He's a Sabermetrician who doesn't think Sabermetrics properly appreciate the way a bullpen should be set up in real life.
Ben Revere, who had four hits last night, is hitting ..319 in his last 35 games.
I'll be on 1500ESPN at noon tomorrow, and on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m.
P.J. Walters is now the Twins' ace.
Seriously. The guy is 2-1 with a 2.49 ERA and has shown the aptitude known in the big leagues as ``pitchability.'' Tuesday, he limited Philadelphia to one earned run in 7 1/3 innings by throwing his breaking pitch as slow as 73 mph. ``That makes his fastbal look like it's about 95,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Justin Morneau (the subject of my Friday column) went 3-for-4 with the game-winning hit, and Jamey Carroll broke out of a slump with two hits and a walk, and Glen Perkins recorded his 14th save and lowered his ERA to 2.66.
But there were a few mistakes that shouldn't happen on a major-league diamond.
Brian Dozier ran into a doubleplay in the fourth inning, ending a rally that had already produced two runs. He was on first with one out when Clete Thomas hit a chopper to second and ran into the tag so the Phillies could turn an easy double play, preventing the runner on third from having a chance to score.
Shortstop Pedro Florimon has looked good compared to many of his teammates this season, but he made a low throw that was ruled an error on Morneau when the ball went under Morneau's glove, and was playing Ben Revere up the middle when Revere's single went into leftfield to produce a run.
Miss Aaron Hicks? You should. While Clete Thomas made one spectacular catch on Tuesday, he couldn't get to two balls that Hicks routinely catches.
Sometime in the next two years the Twins hope to field an outfield of Aaron Hicks, Byron Buxton and Oswaldo Arcia. Arcia made a fine running catch in left on Tuesday. Hicks is an outstanding centerfielder, and Buxton could become the best centerfielder in the game.
Spoke with Morneau before the game. He's gone 168 plate appearances without a home run ,and he admits it bothers him. He was gracious when speaking about it. That column will be in the Friday paper on on the web site.
I'll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 and 1500ESPN at noon tomorrow.
The Wild were overwhelmed in Game 2, losing 5-2. Josh Harding recorded 43 saves but had no chance against waves of Blackhawks chances.
Wrote about Mikko Koivu being minus-3 with three penalties for the Saturday paper. My other takeaways:
-Devin Setoguchi played well, coming close to scoring in the first period and scoring in the second to make it 2-1, Chicago.
-Zach Parise is the Moses Malone of hockey. He gets shot after shot from point-blank range, but sometimes that pads his rebound totals more than his scoring totals. He had seven saves in the first two periods, two off the team record set by Marian Gaborik, but did not get off a shot in the third. He has yet to score a point in this series.
-The Wild was more careful with Ryan Suter's ice time tonight, limiting him to 24:36. He was minus-2.
-Only three Wild players had a positive rating for the night: Marco Scandella, Matt Cullen and Jason Zucker were all plus-1.
-The Wild was outshot 48-28.
-Koivu took three of the Wild's five penalties.
Schedule notes: Michael Russo and I will be flying back early tomorrow to cover the Wild practice (or media sessions). We'll have stuff in the Sunday paper previewing the Wild's first home playoff game since 2008.
I'll be co-hosting Sunday Sports Talk from 10-noon, following the Ron Gardenhire Show on 1500ESPN.
Checking in from the United Center in Chicago, where the Wild is about to skate.
Niklas Backstrom took a commercial flight to Chicago, which is fascinating. I would still expect Josh Harding to start tonight, but Backstrom probably wouldn't be here if he didn't have any chance of playing.
I'd start Harding regardless of Backstrom's readiness. Harding played great on Tuesday. He's acting loose and confident. He's playing with house money. I'd give him a shot rather than hoping Backstrom is recovered from his mystery injury.
What you get from the Chicago media is that the Blackhawk players regret coming out so slowly in Game 1 and plan to correct that tonight. The Wild may have to survive an emotional start.
I'm in Chicago, so I missed the Flip Saunders press conference.
Flip is a smart guy with tons of NBA experience. He could be a very good GM. The question is, can he stay in his lane, or is he taking this job with an eye toward coaching in the future?
As GM, it's his job to make Rick Adelman want to come back. What kind of vibe is Adelman going to get when he talked to Flip about that? Friday morning, Flip wouldn't say he isn't interested in coaching sometime in the future. Does Adelman want to work for his eventual replacement? In some ways, he was better off working for David Kahn, because Kahn had to hand over power to Adelman for Adelman to take the job. Flip will not be handing over any power.
I'll be covering the Wild skate and Game 2 tonight. I'll be on 1500ESPN with Judd & Dubay at noon. My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.
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