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.

Three Twins postgame thoughts from LEN3: Perkins, Hughes, New Britain

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: September 13, 2014 - 11:14 PM

PERKINS' CRUSHING BLOWN SAVE: Glen Perkins had not appeared in a game since Sept. 4, thanks to rainouts and the Twins not needing him to close games. So he was fresh. But he ended up with his sixth blown save of the season, third at the hands of the White Sox, as the Twins lost a tough one. Jose Abreu, who's a lock for rookie of the year, led off the inning by drawing a walk  following a 14-pitch at bat (including nine foul balls). ``That's tough when you start an inning off like that,'' Perkins said. It ended with Viciedo hitting a 3-2 fastball into the seats in left to win the game. Perkins said he tried to throw that pitch down and away but it stayed over the plate and got crushed.  Awful ending to a game the Twins led three different times. For Perkins is continues a bad run. He has a 12.46 ERA over his last six outings. And most of the problem has been location. But this also was the 10th time the White Sox have faced him this season. Familiarity breeds walkoffs?

PHIL HUGHES: I'll have more on this in Monday's paper, but Phil Hughes getting his start pushed back a day will knock him out of the season-ending start against the Tigers on Sept. 28. He needed that start to get to 215 innings for the season, which would have triggered a $500,000 bonus. ``I'll basically have to throw a complete game shutout my next couple times out,'' Hughes said. He was good-natured about it. ``If I don't get there it's not the end of the world.'' He will not come back on short rest. Pitching coach Rick Anderson called Hughes on Friday to tell him the game was postponed, and Hughes could tell Anderson felt bad he was losing a shot at the bonus. ``They are aware of those things and help guys out if they can,'' Hughes said.

ROCK CAT CALAMITY: The Twins, starting Tuesday, are minor league free agents looking for a Class AA club to call home. They officially filed the paperwork and will start looking around, They could go back to New Britain when it's all said and done. But, in most cases, the club moves on. We haven't heard the whole story yet (Twins can't comment until Tuesday) but this could be New Britain wanting to move on too. We'll see.

Twins-White Sox: Game 2 lineups

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: September 13, 2014 - 6:19 PM

Twins (62-85)

Jordan Schafer, CF
Brian Dozier, 2B
Joe Mauer, DH
Kennys Vargas, 1B
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Oswaldo Arcia, RF
Eduardo Nunez, SS
Chris Parmelee, LF
Eric Fryer, C

White Sox (67-80

Marcus Semien, 2B
Alexei Ramirez, SS
Jose Abreu, DH
Avisail Garcia, RF
Dayan Viciedo, 1B
Michael Taylor, LF
Moises Sierra, CF
Josh Phegley, C
Laury Garcia, 3B

Scott Carroll, RHP

Twins-White Sox: Milone to miss Monday start

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: September 13, 2014 - 2:31 PM

CHICAGO -- Tommy Milone tried to throw in the bullpen this morning in advance of his start on Monday.
``It was not good,'' he said.

Soon after that, the Twins announced that Milone would not make his start on Monday against the Tigers. Milone felt pain shoot up his neck on Wednesday during long toss drills and felt discomfort throughout his session on Saturday

``I could feel it on pretty much every throw,'' Milone said. ``It wasn't bad but I could tell I was holding back. I was trying to not make my neck hurt.

``The last two pitches I tried to let it go like I would normally in a game. And it didn't feel good. We shut it down.''

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said that Anthony Swarzak is the preferred candidate to start in place of Milone, but that's if the bullpen survives three games in two days in Chicago, thanks to Friday's rainout creating a doubleheader on Saturday. Swarzak is 3-1 with a 3.95 ERA in 47 games (one start).

``He's not starting,'' Gardenhire said. ``We will be ad-libbing on Monday. We have to get through these three games and see where we are at with the bullpen and everyone else.

It's been a rocky road for Milone since being traded to the Twins from Oakland for Sam Fuld on July 31. Milone, 27, was 6-3 with a 3.55 ERA in 16 starts with Oakland but is 0-1, 7.40 in five starts with the Twins.

He missed his previous because of a tired arm, but said on Saturday that his arm felt great.

The neck, however, has been an issue most of the season but hasn't interfered with his throwing until Saturday.

``I have been battling this side of my neck the whole year, ever since spring training with the A's,'' he said. ``So it is something I have been dealing with. It has never affected me while I was throwing.
Wednesday, I was throwing long toss, and it was a sharp pain on one of those throws. It shot up my neck and since then it hasn't been the same.''

Milone has been unable to show the Twins what he can do.

``That's what is really frustrating,'' he said. ``Finally getting back to where I feel strong and feel good, and something else pops up.''

Twins (62-84)

Danny Santana, CF
Brian Dozier, 2B
Joe Mauer, 1B
Kennys Vargas, DH
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Oswaldo Arcia, RF
Kurt Suzuki, C
Eduardo Escobar, SS
Aaron Hicks, LF

Phil Hughes, RHP

White Sox (66-80)

Adam Eaton, CF
Alexei Ramirez, SS
Jose Abreu, DH
Conor Gillaspie, 3B
Avisail Garcia, RF
Jordan Danks, LF
Tyler Flowers, C
Andy Wilkins, 1B
Carlos Sanchez, 2B

Jose Quintana, LHP

Twins-White Sox game postponed; Milone has sore neck

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: September 12, 2014 - 4:15 PM

It's rained most of the day here, and there's more rain in the forecast tonight. So the Twins-White Sox game scheduled for tonight has been postponed.

The game will be made up as a traditional doubleheader Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 3:10 p.m. The second game, they are saying, will start about 20 minutes after the end of the first game.

Half the team was already at U.S. Cellular Field for early workouts and are returning to the team hotel. Players who were at the hotel and now headed out for lunch. A couple were talking about hitting The North Face to buy coats, because the temperature is in the 50's.

Other players are making plans for an unexpected afternoon off. Just ran into Oswaldo Arcia's agent, who's setting up a trip to the Shedd Aquarium for Arcia and some teammates.

Fox Sports North has announced that both games will be televised,

Not sure about the order of the pitchers for tomorrow's game. Trying to track down pitching coach Rick Anderson for that.


Lefthander Tommy Milone has had his start on Saturday pushed back to Monday because of a sore neck.

Milone came down with the soreness after playing catch on Tuesday. Logan Darnell will start game two on Saturday.

If Milone can't go on Monday, the Twins might start Anthony Swarzak and have the bullpen on high alert.

Twins postgame: Thoughts on Gibson, Thorpe

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: September 11, 2014 - 9:49 PM

A couple things from from the doubleheader loss in Cleveland:

GIBSON KNOCKED DOWN BUT NOT OUT: Kyle Gibson fell to 11-11 with thud, giving up seven runs over three innings during the Twins' 8-2 loss to Cleveland. Gibson has toyed with fans' emotions this season, looking fantastic at times but horrible at others. On Thursday, he just couldn't make the mechanical adjustments needed to get the ball inside. He ended up putting too many pitches in hittable spots of the strike zone. ``When you have this many lefties (in Cleveland's lineup) you have to speed them up,'' he said. ``and to make the offspeed effective you have to be able to locate in, and i didn't do that at all today.'' He seems to understand what he needs to do to be successful, but his execution is not there all the time. But it's not time to give up on Gibson, who is in his first full season in the majors. However, next year will be huge for him. He's got to take a couple steps forward and become the No. 2 or 3 starter the Twins need him to be. He has the stuff to win on this level.

LEWIS THORPE UPDATE: Lewis Thorpe is an 18-year old lefthander the Twins signed out of Australia two years ago who filled out and watched his fastball jump to the low-90's with good, hard sink. He joined Class A Cedar Rapids during the season and went 3-2, 3.52 in 16 starts. He was warming up for a postseason appearance when he felt something in his elbow. He was in the Twin Cities today for a examination and has been diagnosed with a strained ulnar collateral ligament. Brad Steil, the Twins director of minor league operations, said Thorpe will try rehabilitation for an undetermined amount of time. ``We'll see how it goes,'' he said.

Game One: Cleveland 8, Twins 2

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: September 11, 2014 - 1:50 PM

The Twins are looking for signs that 2015 will not be another failed season. So pitchers like Kyle Gibson land in the spotlight because he can be the remedy for what ails the Twins.

Not on Thursday, as his sickly performance sent the Twins spinning to an 8-1 loss to the Indians in the first game of a doubleheader at Progressive Field.

Gibson gave up two runs in the first, one in the second and was finished off in the third when Cleveland scored four times. The seven earned runs tied his season high - set twice already.

While Gibson has pitched wonderfully at times he has been a hot mess on the mound at others. Thursday marked the 11th time - 11th! - that Gibson has given up at least five earned runs in an outing.

The Twins got off to a good start as Danny Santana, back in the lineup after missing two games with a sore lower back, led off the game with a double and later scored on Kennys Vargas' single.

Gibson immediately gave the lead back when he walked Michael Brantley then gave up a home run to Carlos Santana that traveled an estimated 442 feet and landed in the second deck in right field.

Yan Gomes led off the second inning with a homer to left to make it 3-1. Then Gibson totally fell apart in the third, giving up a RBI single to Michael Brantley, a two-run double to Gomes that was a few feet from being a grand slam and a sacrifice fly to Lonnie Chisenhall that gave Cleveland a 7-1 lead. Gibson was replaced by Anthony Swarzak after the inning.




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