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.
Twins starter Yohan Pino will be tasked with stopping Indians All-Star center fielder Michael Brantley, who had just a pinch hit appearance in the Twins’ 4-3 victory over the Indians on Monday.
Brantley ripped a double to right field off reliever Casey Fien in the eighth inning. He’s batting third for the Indians on Tuesday. Brantley is .284 with two home runs and 32 RBIs in 291 plate appearances against the Twins.
Pino, who will make his sixth career start, has never faced Brantley.
“We don’t have too many people that have a lot of success against him,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He comes in last night and, boy, the ball must’ve looked like a beach ball. We’ve got to figure out a way to make it look like a golf ball and get him out. He’s a pretty good hitter.”
Sam Fuld will start in left field with Danny Stantana remaining in center field. Gardenhire doesn’t want to put Santana in left field, a position he’s never placed, and wants to keep shortstop Eduardo Escobar in the lineup.
“[Santana] can fly out there and Sammy can cover his ground so it works out better this way,” Gardenhire said.
Here’s the rest of the lineup:
Jason Kipnis (L), 2B
Chris Dickerson (L), LF
Michael Brantley (L), CF
Carlos Santana (S), 1B
Lonnie Chisenhall (L), 3B
Nick Swisher (S), DH
Yan Gomes, C
David Murphy (L), RF
Mike Aviles, SS
Danny Salazar, RHP
Danny Santana (S), CF
Brian Dozier, 2B
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Kendrys Morales (S), 1B
Josh Willingham, DH
Kurt Suzuki, C
Oswaldo Arcia (L), RF
Eduardo Escobar (S), SS
Sam Fuld (L), LF
Yohan Pino, RHP
Here are three thoughts following the Twins' win over Cleveland.
1. GOOD FOR TWINS, CRUMMY FOR JOHNSON: I'm a little strange. I like that players get the ball for milestone hits and wins. And teams give a left-handed toast to managers for milestone wins. Why? This game pretty hard to play. Doing anything for the first time is cool. Doinghit 500 times? 1,000? More? That seems pretty special. So it was too bad for lefthander Kris Johnson, who left the game with a 3-2 lead in the fifth and was set up for his first win. But Casey Fien couldn't get out of the eighth untouched, a blemish on what has been a strong season for him. Johnson pointed out that the important thing was that the Twins got a win they needed in the end. Hopefully he'll get another chance. At 29, you never know when the next opportunity will come.
2. A CORRECTION: I think I stated in the pregame blog that most players I've covered have needed about a month to return from an oblique strain (re: No. 7). I decided to look that up, and I was mistaken. Let's head back to 2011, the year of the great oblique outbreak. It was the last time any Twins player had the injury. Delmon Young and Jim Thome both missed 19 games, Glen Perkins missed 23 games, Tsuyoshi Nishioka missed 15 games and Brian Duensing missed only10 games. Mauer on Monday missed his 16th game, but that doesn't include the four-day All-Star break. So this one already is worse than most of the others. And Mauer hasn't started hitting yet. I'm glad I looked that up.
3. PINO THURSDAY, DARNELL ON SATURDAY? I'm hearing that Logan Darnell could be called up to start on Saturday, the next time the Twins need a fill-in starter. Darnell is in line to start on Friday, so it looks as if he would get an extra day of rest if he ends up being the choice. Alex Meyer is pitching on Wednesday, and would gave to be juggled. Plus, Meyer's work load could make it hard for him to join the rotation. May has a much better chance to debut this season, but he needs three more starts, at least. to build up his arm strength after missing nearly a month because of a calf strain. I know it's not what the masses want to read right now, but I'm just a courier.
Joe Mauer was out early taking grounders and running in the outfield as he recovers from a right oblique strain. He plans to take some dry swings ( not off the tee or against any pitching). Mauer said he's fine with every day activities but definitely still feels it when he starts working out. Not surprised. Most players I have covered missed at least a month with that injury.
``That's not what I wanted to hear,'' Mauer said. But it's true. It's an injury that takes a while to calm down.
Still, Mauer feels like he's making progress. He's getting treatment every day and is at the point where he can do a little more each day.
``Long days at the park,'' he said.
Yohan Pino is here and will start on Tuesday against Cleveland, as expected. Lefthander Kris Johnson is expected to be sent down after tonight's start to clear room for Pino,
Pino was sent to Class AAA Rochester before the All-Star break to remain on somewhat of a routine - and to make room for Kris Johnson to be be added in time to start on July 11 against Colorado. Pino started on Thursday against Norfolk, giving up five earned runs over five innings on three hits - and seven walks
Pino's theory is that pitching with six day's rest threw him off schedule. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire didn't seen too concerned either, probably because his options are limited.
Pinto will start Tuesday, then Sunday against the White Sox. The Twins have an off day on Monday, July 28, so everyone can be pushed back a day in the rotation. Pinto could start again on Aug. 1. Aug. 2 should be the next day the Twins need a fifth starter.
By the way, my new prediction for the debut of Trevor May is Aug. 10. He threw 47 pitches on Sunday in his return from a calf strain. He'll need at least three more starts to build up his arm strength to 90-plus pitches.
Oswaldo Arcia is not in the lineup today because a lefthander is on the mound for Cleveland. But he was out on the field for early batting practice with hitting coach Tom Brunansky.
Michael Brantley is getting a day off for the Indians, leaving them with a lineup that has some interesting batting averages.
Jason Kipnis, 2B
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
Yan Gomes, DH
Carlos Santana, 1B (.204-14-40)
Ryan Raburn, LF (.199-2-18)
Nick Swisher, RF (.209-8-40)
Roberto Perez, C
Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B
Mike Aviles, CF (infielder playing the outfield)
T.J. House, LHP
Danny Santana, CF (infielder playing the outfield)
Brian Dozier, 2B
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Kendrys Morales, 1B (.239-1-18, 10 game hit streak)
Josh Willingham, LF (.209-8-27)
Kurt Suzuki, C
Chris Colabello, DH
Chris Parmelee, RF
Eduardo Escobar, SS
Kris Johnson, LHP
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