Well, if you didn't think the Metrodome gave the Twins a home-field advantage, check this: The Twins hit 23 home runs in the first 23 home games last year and have only 10 homers in 23 games at Target Field going into Thursday's Yankees game.
Maybe playing at Target Field is an advantage to visiting teams who can hit the long ball, with 21 home runs to date to only 12 for the home team, after Jason Kubel went deep twice Thursday night in the Twins' 8-2 victory.
The Twins also scored 130 runs in the first 23 games last year at the Metrodome, compared to 116 this year.
AL East teams continue to give the Twins problems. In 2009, the Twins were 10-22 against the AL East. After going 2-5 vs. the East on their most recent road trip and going 1-2 in this home series with the Yankees, the Twins are 7-10 against the AL East this season.
Fortunately now the Twins are done with the Yankees. They are also done with the Red Sox, who have given the Twins problems season after season.
Of those 23 home runs in 23 games last year, Justin Morneau had six; this year, he has two of the 10. Joe Mauer had four in 2009, two in 2010. Jason Kubel had one last year and one this year, the first home run at Target Field. The only Twins player with more homers at home at this point than a year ago is Michael Cuddyer, who had three through 23 games last year and five through 23 games this year.Kubel in slump
Kubel, who hit .300 for the Twins last year, has struggled this season, but he is optimistic that things will turn around. He showed signs with his big night Thursday, going 3-for-4 with the two homers and five RBI to lift his average to .233.
"It's a little change but I'm getting through it and feeling better each day, so I try to keep the bat square, just keep playing and trying to play better," Kubel said.
Kubel said playing each day rather than serving as a designated hitter will likely help him out of his slump. "I'm able to go out there and play more days than not, so as long as I keep going out, I should be all right," he said.
Kubel claims he was a lot luckier hitter a year ago.
"You can hit the ball, that's as much as you can do," he said. "It all depends on how much luck you have if it's going to fall or not, so that's what it is."
He said he has been working a lot with Twins batting coach Joe Vavra trying to boost his average.
"I haven't changed anything. I just try to keep working at it and just try to keep it at that," Kubel said.
He thought he broke out of his slump when he hit that grand slam in the eighth inning against Mariano Rivera and the Yankees on May 16. "That was a lot of fun," Kubel said of the slam. "I'd like to get a lot more of those, but I'll take what I can get right now."
Maybe Thursday night is a sign he's going to heat up.Jottings
Don Lucia said his Gophers hockey team had an all-time high cumulative grade-point average of 3.00 this past semester, and that all the seniors on the team graduated.
Jason LaFrenz, the Gophers assistant athletic director for marketing and ticket sales, reports 93 percent of the people who had Gophers football season tickets this past season have renewed. "We expect to have 1,000 Gophers season football tickets available," he said. LaFrenz added that he expects some current season ticket holders will add to their collection, but if fans are interested either in buying tickets for the 2010 season or getting on the waiting list, they should call the Gophers ticket office at 612-624-8080. ... Meanwhile, the price of tickets to Gophers basketball games have been raised by $2, from $31 to $33, but there won't be an increase on hockey tickets.
Now that the Gophers wrestling program has been cleared of alleged improprieties in real estate deals between wrestlers and coaches, wrestling coach J Robinson said he has agreed in principle on a three-year contract which will put his salary in the middle of Big Ten coaches. Robinson has been operating on a year-to-year contract for some 10 years because he insisted he deserved to be paid as well as some of the coaches of Gophers women's sports. ... Corey Hodowanic, who won a Wisconsin state title at 119 pounds wrestling for Cornell High School, has signed a national letter of intent with the Gophers. He is expected to wrestle at 125 pounds for Minnesota.
In the past nine months, TCF Bank Stadium has been booked for more than 200 non-football events, including bar mitzvahs, wedding receptions and business meetings.
Back in 1983, Lou Nanne -- then general manager of the Minnesota North Stars -- had a choice of drafting either Steve Yzerman or Brian Lawton with the No. 1 overall pick. Both were ranked as top draft choices and Nanne took Lawton. Yzerman went to Detroit, where he led the Red Wings to three Stanley Cups (1997, 1998, 2002) and became a Hall of Fame player. Now Yzerman has replaced Lawton, who recently was fired as the general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning. ... The Detroit Free Press reported that a year ago, Yzerman turned down the opportunity to replace Doug Risebrough as Wild general manager. There were lot of rumors in NHL circles that Risebrough was going to become the Tampa Bay GM and bring in Jacques Lemaire as his coach. The interim GM of the Lightning was Tom Kurvers, the former UMD and NHL hockey player.
Former Gophers defenseman Paul Martin, who has been a superstar for the New Jersey Devils, will be an unrestricted free agent July 1. You wonder if the Wild will make a move that would be real popular with the hockey nuts around here and try to sign Martin.
Gophers baseball coach John Anderson, talking about junior Seth Rosin, the outstanding pitcher who is one reason the team won the Big Ten regular-season title: "He's a typical Minnesota kid. He was big, strong, a multisport athlete, he's about [6-6, 245 pounds] and he runs it up there 91-93 [miles per hour], and a breaking ball and changeup that's steadily gotten better through his career. ... He's still in development. I've always said the Minnesota kids, the pitchers, generally don't fully mature until they're 25-26, and he's probably on that same path."
Former Gophers basketball player Dave Winey's daughter, Caitlin, has qualified for the NCAA Regional Track and Field Meet in Austin, Texas, running the 100- and 400- meter hurdles for Arkansas State. As for her father, I'll never forget that one of the NCAA violations the Gophers program received in the mid-'70s was because even though Winey didn't have a place to stay during a school break, the NCAA at the time considered it a violation because he stayed with a booster.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. • firstname.lastname@example.org