Three extras from the disappointing homestand finale for the Twins:
Joe Mauer knows what he needs to work on this winter: His dance moves. That’s the message he received after being passed over for one of Torii Hunter’s Torii Awards, handed out to the team’s best dancers on Wednesday.
“Yeah, I’m a little bitter,” Mauer joked. “I’ll have to get in there a little bit more down the stretch.”
Seriously, though, Mauer said those gold trophies were a good example of why he believes the Twins won’t buckle under final-week postseason pressure. “That was one of the things I love about this clubhouse. They keep things light,” Mauer said. “We’ve had some guys who have been in this position before — Torii, Ervin [Santana], some of the pitchers across the room. I think they’re doing a good job trying to keep guys loose.”
It was a bad night for Kyle Gibson to turn in his shortest start of the season, shortest in fact since July 4, 2014. And you could tell that the timing of it bothered the third-year righthander, who definitely wants to be known as a pitcher the team can rely upon.
“Everybody in this locker room deserves better,” Gibson said, shouldering the blame for Thursday’s 6-3 loss. “In five days, I’ll be prepared and will go out and give us a chance to win.”
If so, he needs to conquer his strange habit of first-inning runs. After giving up Jason Kipnis’ home run and Lonnie Chisenhall’s two-run single, Gibson has now allowed 20 first-inning runs this season, by far the most on the Twins; in fact, only Phil Hughes and Trevor May have even reached double digits.
It bugs Gibson, too.
“I’m not sure if I’m not getting ready enough with my warm-up pitches, or what,” he said. “I’m going to talk to Neil [Allen, the Twins’ pitching coach] and make an adjustment. Maybe warm up later, closer to game time, or take a few more pitches out in the bullpen.”
Either way, count on Gibson to be extra-focused during the first inning on Tuesday — when he faces the Indians again.
Kurt Suzuki took a bat off the helmet in the first inning, and was briefly examined by athletic trainer Tony Leo. He stayed in the game, of course, and collected two hits, his first multi-hit night since Sept. 9.
“I know his thumb was bothering him a little bit, too,” Twins manager Molitor said. “He’s staying with it, though.”
Thursday’s game was Suzuki’s 119th behind the plate this season. With 10 games left, he could pull into a tie for 10th place in franchise history for most games caught in a single season, matching the 129 played by Earl Battey in 1961 and Brian Harper in 1992. Battey, by the way, owns the Twins record by catching 145 games in both 1962 and 1963. Butch Wynegar owns four of the top seven seasons, too, along with Joe Mauer’s 2008 season, when he caught 137 games.
“I don’t know if I can catch him all the remaining games,” Molitor said, making it clear he’s thinking about it. “But I like that he’s in there. He’s batting, he’s getting his hits. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”