A series of random thoughts on a wonderful day at the ballpark:
-Was there any doubt that Joe Mauer would play well in his first game at Target Field?
A hard liner to left that gets caught...an RBI double down the leftfield line...an RBI single that banks off the second base bag...a hard double to right.
That's how you become a batting champ, using the whole field and, if you believe his teammates, possessing whatever combination of skill and luck required to hit the second base bag as if you were aiming for it.
Matt Guerrier admitted he joked with the Red Sox relievers in the bullpen about Mauer. Brian Duensing admitted he and the relievers often wonder aloud how it's possible to get Mauer out.
I wrote about Mauer's day for the Tuesday paper. I will say he looked happier after the game than I've seen him in a long time, with the exception of days when all ballplayers celebrate, like after winning Game 163 last year.
He also went straight to the weight room after the game. He does put in long hours.
-Jon Lester helped by pitching erratically, but it's still strange to see a Twins lineup willing and able to work the count. The hack-and-run Twins have become a classic patient-and-power lineup.
-Yes, I questioned whether Jon Rauch could handle the closer's role, and so far I've been dead wrong. He's 5-for-5 and throwing strikes. The question now is how he'll handle his first rough stretch.
But even if he eventually falters, if he can at least buy the Twins some time, he will have served his purpose.
-An initial impression that may change as the weather and wind change: It's hard to hit the ball out to the power alleys and centerfield. Most homers in this park will be hit toward the jutting-out bleachers in right, or down the line in left.
-David Ortiz doesn't look bad just when he swings and misses. I thought he put all of his force into the fly to left-center in the fourth, and the fact that it stayed in the ballpark is, to me, a bad sign. If he doesn't hit homers, he doesn't have value.
-The Twins were lucky to survive Dustin Pedroia on Monday. He hit a line-drive double, a line-drive out to center, a chopper that Nick Punto made an excellent play on, and a sacrifice fly to right. Does anybody square the ball more than Pedroia. (Other than Mauer?)
-I like what I see from Delmon Young so far this year. He's driving more pitches than ever to leftfield, and he's still capable of punching the ball to right.
-No need to fret over Denard Span's relatively slow start. He's taking good at-bats and he's healthy, so the numbers will be there eventually.
-The Twins are 6-2, and you could blame Jose Mijares for both losses if you wanted to. He won't have a long leash with Brian Duensing pitching well.
-Nobody wants to hear this, because he's become a whipping boy for fans, but Jesse Crain has pitched exceptionally well since late last season, and he is the rare Twin on this staff who has the stuff to be a prototypical closer. He also was successful as a closer in the minors.
What we don't know and can't know until he's put in that position is: Deep down, does he really want that job?
-Matt Guerrier might be the greatest overachiever on the Twins' roster. It takes guts and savvy to pitch with his stuff and make it look easy.
-Programming notes: Couldn't make it to Joe Anderson's show tonight because of newspaper deadlines, so I'll be on with Joe tomorrow night, probably around 6:30 pm (although that could change.)
I'll definitely be on am-1500 at 2:35 p.m. tomorrow with Reusse and Souch. That will be my regular time slot on am-1500, in addition to twice-weekly appearances with Joe and, of course, the Gardy Show and Sunday Sports Talk from 9:30-noon on Sundays.
-You can follow me on Twitter at Souhanstrib.
-I highly recommend picking up the Strib sports section tomorrow. Our Target Field special section over the weekend was spectacular (not congratulating myself, I contributed less than everyone else on our staff) and our coverage tomorrow should be really good.
I'll check in again tomorrow.