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Twins Insider

La Velle E. Neal III and Phil Miller report on the Twins from wherever they make news

Postgame: Mauer says Blanton is tough, but results say otherwise

    A few extras from Kauffman Stadium, now that the fireworks are over:

    — Joe Blanton has bounced around the majors for a few years, and even thought he had retired last summer before the Royals gave him another chance. So his reputation isn’t great these days. But Joe Mauer thinks Blanton is underrated. “He’s got the ball darting in and out, and with good late movement,” Mauer said of the Royals’ fifth starter. His first-inning home run “was just more about getting something up that I can handle.” Maybe Mauer has ulterior motives for the compliment, though. After going 2-for-3 against Blanton on Saturday, he’s now 13-for-30 (.433) against the veteran righthander, with two home runs.

    — Manager Paul Molitor has said several times that he’d like to return to a four-man bench, but admitted that he’s beginning to get used to having an eight-man bullpen instead. Besides, he said, “the three-man bench really hasn’t been a factor for us. It’s been rare when I’ve had to use more than one guy, in terms of pinch-hitting. So it hasn’t hurt us by having a three-man bench.”

    — Big night for the Twins’ bullpen. One night after giving up the tying and winning runs in a 3-2 loss, most of the same pitchers threw again, and this time they held the Royals scoreless over the final five innings. “It’s always good to get them back out,” Molitor said. “[Blaine] Boyer had the good inning last night; tonight he walked a guy but got a big out for us. [Aaron] Thompson got the big double play. And Casey [Fien], it was really good for him to get back out there” after giving up the tying run on a ground ball and bloop hit the night before. “I think he realized things didn’t go his way last night more than he didn’t pitch well,” Molitor said.

    — George Toma, the 86-year-old legendary groundskeeper here in Kansas City, was at the game to visit old friends, and watch the Twins. He’s semi-retired, but still takes care of the Hammond Stadium infield in Fort Myers, Fla., during spring training for the Twins. He couldn’t resist, either: When the crew came out to work the infield before the seventh inning, Toma grabbed a rake and smoothed the dirt around first base.

    — Attention furry creatures: Don’t mess with Blaine Boyer.

    The Twins’ righthander was getting ready to walk with the rest of the relievers to the bullpen before Thursday’s game when Sluggerrr, the Royals’ lion-costumed mascot, approached and, for reasons unknown, began to reach for Boyer’s face.

    Bad move.

    “I didn’t know what he was doing. It was very strange, like he was trying to pick my nose or something,” said Boyer, who grabbed the mascot’s paw to stop him. “I said to him, ‘I will break you.’ He didn’t say anything, but he backed off. It was so weird. I would have taken that thing off his head.”

Trevor May moves to bullpen to make way for Ervin Santana

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Telling Alex Meyer he was headed back to Rochester wasn’t the only tough news Paul Molitor delivered Friday night. He also had a new destination for Trevor May: the bullpen.

    May, 4-7 with a 4.37 ERA as a starter, will serve as a reliever at least until the All-Star Break, Molitor said, in order to make room for Ervin Santana. The move probably isn’t permanent, Molitor said, but it made the most sense to him in the short term.

    “We’ll have to decide eventually long-term, if we want to see how that works out,” Molitor said, “or if getting into a rotation down below [at Class AAA Rochester] would be helpful in terms of keeping him ready to help us if something happens to one of our guys. We’ll decide that somewhere along the way.”

    May took the news “great,” Molitor said, but he was clearly disappointed. On the other hand, he said, he’s glad he gets to stay in the major leagues.

    “I’ve got to be thankful for that, and that they have the faith that I can go down to the pen and contribute,” the 26-year-old second-year righthander said. “My stuff has played pretty well, and I think it can be effective in the pen, too, in any situation.”

    May’s first four starts in June were eye-opening, with just five runs and 24 strikeouts in 24 innings. That’s a 1.88 ERA, though the Twins somehow went 1-3 in those starts. He also leads the team in strikeouts and is third in strikeout/walk ratio. But when it was suggested that Molitor wouldn’t have made this decision two weeks ago, May disagreed.

    “Honestly, I don’t know how much [recent] results had to do with it. You can’t really make a case that any of us shouldn’t be [in the rotation]. We’ve all been pretty good in general, that’s how I feel.”

    But he knew this was coming, with Santana scheduled to pitch Sunday after serving his 80-game steroids suspension. Now he’ll focus on altering his normal pitching pattern. “It’ll be a little different getting warmed up, monitoring my throwing on a day-to-day basis, because I had a pretty extensive routine,” May said. “It’ll be a matter of doing the same amount of work, just spreading it out differently. But I have the arm durability to do it.”

    He’s not available today, having started Wednesday in Cincinnati, when he gave up one earned run in 6 1/3 innings. We’ll see if being shorthanded in the bullpen is a hindrance with Mike Pelfrey on the mound.

    Here are tonight’s lineups for the 6:15 p.m. start — by the way, it’s on Fox’s national channel (KMSP in the Twin Cities), not Fox Sports North tonight. Both teams will be wearing the stars-and-stripes uniforms for the Fourth of July.



Dozier 2B

Mauer 1B

Hunter RF

Plouffe 3B

Rosario LF

Sano DH

Hicks CF

Herrmann C

Santana SS


Pelfrey RHP




Escobar SS

Moustakas 3B

Cain CF

Hosmer 1B

Morales DH

Gordon LF

Perez C

Rios RF

Infante 2B


Blanton RHP

1:10 PM (FSN)
Minnesota 43-38
Kansas City 45-33

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    1:10 PM

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