Day Game finale in Brew Town

Coming off last night’s stunning 4-3 loss late to the Brewers, the Twins are back at Miller Park and trying to prevent their second straight Interleague series loss.

While the clubhouse was awfully quiet on Wednesday night after the game, the mood this morning was loose and back to normal. I think everyone knows that today’s contest will be a big test for the club to bounce back and get this roadtrip off to a good start. The Twins have struggled in day games this season, going 8-17 in them so far.

As for news this morning, Nick Punto is back in Minnesota to get his rib cage checked out. Manager Ron Gardenhire said that he expects Punto or another middle infielder to join the team in St. Louis on Friday for the start of the series with the Cardinals. That means the club is hoping to have some sort of news on Punto today about what exactly is causing the soreness in his ribs.

The problem for the Twins is that if Punto has to go on the DL, their middle infield options to replace him are limited. Alexi Casilla is currently sidelined with a groin injury at Triple-A Rochester, so Steve Tolleson might be the club’s other option. Tolleson has been hitting well — batting .327 in 25 games — but the reports are that he’s struggled some defensively for the Red Wings.

Right now, Gardenhire said that his backup at second base is Michael Cuddyer and that Cuddyer might even see a start at the position this weekend in St. Louis. Cuddyer seemed to welcome the opportunity when I talked to him this morning. He said he’d have to borrow an infielder’s glove since his is not with him on the trip, but he already started fielding some balls at second just in case.

Kevin Slowey is set to make his start on Saturday. He had a little stiffness following a throwing session on Wednesday, but pitching coach Rick Anderson said that Slowey made it through another session this morning without any problems. So the right-hander will be on the mound for Saturday’s day game in St. Louis, which is expected to be sweltering with temperates in the upper 90s.

Joe Mauer felt good to play today so he’s back in the lineup, but that means he’ll likely get Saturday’s day game in St. Louis as his day off. Gardenhire said he also checked with Joe Crede on Thursday morning but he was ready to play as well.

So here are today’s lineups for the rubber match:

Denard Span, CF
Brendan Harris, SS
Joe Mauer, C
Justin Morneau, 1B
Jason Kubel, LF
Michael Cuddyer, RF
Joe Crede, 3B
Matt Tolbert, 2B
Scott Baker, P

Craig Counsell, 2B
Casey McGehee, 3B
Ryan Braun, LF
Prince Fielder, 1B
Corey Hart, RF
Mike Cameron, CF
J.J. Hardy, SS
Jason Kendall, C
Mike Burns, P

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