September 2009

Twins go for sweep

Tonight the Twins are trying for their first three-game sweep over the White Sox in Chicago since July 24-26, 2006

They’ll be trying for the feat without Denard Span for a second consecutive day. The club’s leadoff hitter said he was feeling better on Wednesday, two days after getting hit in the head by a pitch, but he was not in the lineup. Span planned on taking batting practice with the club and preparing himself as if he was playing. He expects to be back on the field for Friday’s series opener in Kansas City.

Sounds like Francisco Liriano will be the starter on Sunday in Kansas City. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was pleased enough with what he saw from Liriano in his 2 1/3 inning relief outing last night that the left-hander will get the nod in the series finale with the Royals.

Just a note that the Twins are expected to face Zack Greinke in both of their remaning series with the Royals. Greinke will pitch Sunday in KC and he’s also in line to start on Oct. 3 vs. Minnesota.

Twins (78-73)
2nd place in AL Central, 2 1/2 games back

Carlos Gomez, CF
Orlando Cabrera, SS
Joe Mauer, C
Jason Kubel, RF
Michael Cuddyer, 1B
Delmon Young, LF
Brendan Harris, DH
Matt Tolbert, 3B
Nick Punto, 2B
Pitching: LHP Brian Duensing (4-1, 3.22)

White Sox (73-79)
3rd place in AL Central, 8 games back
Jayson Nix, 2B
Gordon Beckham, 3B
A.J. Pierzynski, C
Paul Konerko, 1B
Alexei Ramirez, SS
Jermaine Dye, RF
Carlos Quentin, LF
Alex Rios, CF
Tyler Flowers, DH
Pitching: LHP Mark Buehrle (12-9, 3.84)

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Span out of lineup, Gomez leading off

Denard Span is not in the lineup after getting hit in the head by a pitch in the sixth inning of last night’s contest. Carlos Gomez gets the start in center field and will lead off. I’ll have more on Span once we go into the clubhouse.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is going for career win No. 700 tonight against the White Sox.

There is certainly going to be plenty of scoreboard watching going on tonight. The Tigers open up a three-game series in Cleveland and with the Twins only 2 1/2 games back, they will be interested to see how those contests go.

Here are today’s lineups:

Twins (77-73)
2nd place in AL Central, 2 1/2 games back

Carlos Gomez, CF
Orlando Cabrera, SS
Joe Mauer, C
Jason Kubel, RF
Michael Cuddyer, 1B
Delmon Young, LF
Brendan Harris, DH
Matt Tolbert, 3B
Nick Punto, 2B
Pitching: RHP Jeff Manship (0-1, 5.31)

White Sox (73-78)
3rd place in AL Central, 7 games back
Scott Podsednik, CF
Gordon Beckham, 3B
A.J. Pierzynski, C
Paul Konerko, 1B
Mark Kotsay, DH
Alexei Ramirez, SS
Carlos Quentin, LF
Chris Getz, 2B
Alex Rios, RF
Pitching: LHP John Danks (12-9, 3.59)

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A few more things…

I touched on a few of these subjects in the tidbits section of my preview today but wanted to expand a little on them.

Rotation for Detroit series: The Twins have made sure that their four best starting pitchers will be pitching during next week’s four-game set at Detroit.

The Twins have an off day on Thursday. While they are not skipping anyone’s start on that day, they are using the extra day to swap the starts of Jeff Manship and Nick Blackburn.

Manship is starting in tonight in Chicago and would have be in line to start Monday vs. Detroit had the Twins pushed everyone back a day. Instead, Manship will start on his regular rest on Sunday in Kansas City while Blackburn will be moved back a day to start the series opener in Motown.

Changes at Minor League level: The Twins will have a new manager and a new hitting coach at Triple-A Rochester next season.

Twins director of Minor Leagues Jim Rantz said Monday that Stan Clibrun and Rich Miller were informed that their contracts would not be renewed for the 2010 season. Cliburn had managed the Rochester Red Wings since 2006, while Miller took over for hitting coach Riccardo Ingram on July 1 when Ingram had to leave the team to take care of a medical issue.

“Obviously Stan has been with us a long time and I respect his track record but I think it was time to make a change and kind of go in a different direction,” Rantz said. “We’re just going to try to get better at the Triple-A level…I just think it’s time to make a change.

Other moves among the Twins Minor League coaching staff are expected to take place and it’s likely that both positions at Rochester will be filled from within the organization.

Perkins to see Dr. Lewis Yocum on Wednesday

Left-hander Glen Perkins is going to see noted orthopedic specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum on Wednesday for yet another opinion on his shoulder.

 “I think everybody wants to be reassured that he’s going to be fine,” Twins general manager Bill Smith said. “I had a good talk with his agent and talked to Glen the other day. Ultimately I think we are all looking for the same thing.”

The visit comes as the players’ union is currently looking into whether a grievance should be filed against the Twins on Perkins’ behalf. At issue is the lost service time after Perkins was not called up to the big leagues following his rehab from shoulder tendinitis.

Perkins had been on pace to qualify for salary arbitration as a “Super-2,” an exception made for players who fall just days short of the three-year arbitration mark.

This will be the second time that Perkins has seen Yocum this year. He was examined by the noted specialist during a July series with the Angels in Anaheim after complaining that he was battling discomfort in his shoulder the previous day during a rough start at Oakland. It was one of a few times that Perkins startled the coaching staff with news that he was hurt following a poor start. At the time of the previous visit, Yocum diagnosed Perkins with tendinitis.

The make-or-break roadtrip begins: Twins at White Sox 9/21

The Twins critical 10-game, 11-day roadtrip kicks off tonight in Chicago against the White Sox. Currently Minnesota sits 3 games behind the first-place Tigers in the American League Central race. They’ll have a chance tonight to pick up a half-game as Detroit is idle today — their final off day of the season.

While many people have written off Chicago as they now sit 6 1/2 games back of the Tigers in the division, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire isn’t so quick to do the same. He reminded everyone that the White Sox still have these three games to try to make up ground on the Twins and six left with Detroit as well.

“I don’t think the Sox are quitting right now,” Gardenhire said. “When you get a chance to play the other teams that are aehad you, that always makes you feel a little bit better about it. I’m sure the Sox are thinking that too

“They’ve got as much life as we do. We’re just a little closer. They’ve got six games with [Detroit]. We’ve got four.”

Also, the Twins aren’t skipping any starters with the off day but it sounds like they’ll make one alteration. Gardenhire said that the four big guys will be starting against Detroit in that series — meaning everyone besides Jeff Manship. So Manship will start tomorrow vs. Chicago and then he’ll stay on five days to pitch on Sunday at Kansas City. Nick Blackburn will be pushed back a day to start Monday, the first game of the series in Detroit.

Here are today’s lineups:

Twins (76-73)
2nd place in AL Central, 3 games back

Denard Span, CF
Orlando Cabrera, SS
Joe Mauer, C
Jason Kubel, RF
Michael Cuddyer, 1B
Delmon Young, LF
Jose Morales, DH
Matt Tolbert, 3B
Nick Punto, 2B
Pitching: RHP Nick Blackburn (10-11, 4.34)

White Sox (73-77)
3rd place in AL Central, 6 1/2 games back
Scott Podsednik, CF
Gordon Beckham, 3B
A.J. Pierzynski, C
Paul Konerko, DH
Mark Kotsay, 1B
Jermaine Dye, RF
Carlos Quentin, LF
Chris Getz, 2B
Alexei Ramirez, SS
Pitching: RHP Daniel Hudson (0-0, 4.76)

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NFL says no swap planned for Vikings-Packers

The Twins face a potential scheduling conflict should they finish the regular season tied with the Tigers atop the American League Central and earn home field advantage for the one-game tiebreaker, which would typically be scheduled for the Monday after the regular season ends.

Yet there is already a Green Bay Packers-Minnesota Vikings contest scheduled to take place at the Metrodome on that Monday, Oct. 5.

Green Bay hosts the Vikings on Nov. 1, and there had been speculation that perhaps the dates could be swapped to accommodate the one-game baseball playoff.

But on Monday, NFL spokesman Dan Masonson told The Associated Press that next month’s Packers-Vikings game will not be moved.

“There is no swap under consideration,” Masonson said in an e-mail to the AP. “We are closely monitoring the situation.”

Of course, there is still a lot to be done if the Twins are to force a one-game playoff. The Twins currently sit three games back of the first-place Tigers with 13 games left to play — including four head-to-head matchups between the two clubs. Minnesota currently leads the season series with Detroit, 9-5.

Going for a sweep: Twins vs. Tigers 9/20

The Twins have a chance to pull within one game of the Tigers if they can complete the series sweep at the Metrodome this afternoon. Otherwise, they’ll trail Detroit by three games with 13 contests remaining, including four head-to-head matchups at Comerica Park.

A victory would also extend the Twins season-long winning streak to seven games and move the Twins

Before the game, manager Ron Gardenhire said that Joe Crede will have another back surgery next week so the third baseman is officially done for the year. It’s a tough thing for  Crede, as it’s his third surgery in three years to repair a herniated L5 disk in his lower back. He’s obviously frustrated by the whole thing and for a guy who plays as hard as he does, you can’t help but feel for him as he gets set to undergo yet another procedure.

Another bit of news that Gardenhire passed along is that the Twins won’t alter their pitching rotation following Thursday’s off day. So here is how the pitching matchups will look for the upcoming 10-game roadtrip.

Chicago: Nick Blackburn, Jeff Manship, Brian Duensing
Kansas City: Carl Pavano, Scott Baker, Blackburn
Detroit: Manship, Duensing, Pavano, Baker

Here are today’s lineups:

Tigers (78-70)
1st place in AL Central
Curtis Granderson, CF
Placido Polanco, 2B
Marcus Thames, DH
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Magglio Ordonez, RF
Carlos Guillen, LF
Brandon Inge, 3B
Gerald Laird, C
Ramon Santiago, SS
Pitching: LHP Nate Robertson (1-2, 5.35)

Twins (76-72)
2nd place in AL Central, 2 games back

Denard Span, CF
Orlando Cabrera, SS
Joe Mauer, C
Jason Kubel, RF
Michael Cuddyer, 1B
Delmon Young, LF
Brendan Harris, DH
Matt Tolbert, 3B
Nick Punto, 2B
Pitching: RHP Scott Baker (13-8, 4.35)

A reminder you can follow me on Twitter  @kellythesier

Going for a sixth straight win: Twins vs. Tigers 9/19

The Twins started off their series against the Tigers last night with their fifth straight win — matching the club’s longest winning streak of the season.

Now they’ll try to see if Carl Pavano can improve his record against the Tigers this season to 5-0 and pull the club within two games of first-place Detroit.

UPDATE: Thanks to fellow MLB.com writer Jason Beck, who covers the Tigers, I learned that Pavano will try to become the first pitcher to beat Detroit five times in one season since Joe Mays did it in 2001.

Here are today’s lineups:

Tigers (78-69)
1st place in AL Central
Curtis Granderson, CF
Placido Polanco, 2B
Carlos Guillen, LF
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Aubrey Huff, DH
Magglio Ordonez, RF
Brandon Inge, 3B
Gerald Laird, C
Adam Everett, SS
Pitching: RHP Justin Verlander (16-8, 3.34)

Twins (75-72)
2nd place in AL Central, 3 games back

Denard Span, CF
Orlando Cabrera, SS
Joe Mauer, C
Jason Kubel, RF
Michael Cuddyer, 1B
Delmon Young, LF
Jose Morales, DH
Brian Buscher, 3B
Nick Punto, 2B
Pitching: RHP Carl Pavano (12-11, 4.91)

A reminder you can follow me on Twitter  @kellythesier

The showdown begins: Twins vs. Tigers 9/18

Here are today’s lineups:

Tigers (78-68)
1st place in AL Central
Ryan Raburn, LF
Placido Polanco, 2B
Magglio Ordonez, RF
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Marcus Thames, DH
Brandon Inge, 3B
Curtis Granderson, CF
Gerald Laird, C
Adam Everett, SS
Pitching: RHP Rick Porcello (13-8, 4.21)

Twins (74-72)
2nd place in AL Central, 4 games back

Denard Span, CF
Orlando Cabrera, SS
Joe Mauer, C
Jason Kubel, RF
Michael Cuddyer, 1B
Delmon Young, LF
Jose Morales, DH
Matt Tolbert, 3B
Nick Punto, 2B
Pitching: LHP Brian Duensing (3-1, 3.53)

A reminder you can follow me on Twitter  @kellythesier

Morneau gets a breather

UPDATE: Jason Kubel was scratched from today’s lineup with a sore neck. Kubel was originally in the lineup in right field and Denard Span in center. But Carlos Gomez is now in the lineup at CF and Span shifts to RF.

Justin Morneau is not in the lineup today as he’s battling a stiff back and a sore wrist, manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Morneau dove head-first into first base on Friday night trying to avoid a tag, and Gardenhire thinks that probably took a little toll on the first baseman. Perhaps it’s also a good time to give a mental break to Morneau, who is 3-for-39 (.077) since the start of September.

“He’s your ultimate gamer on the field,” Gardenhire said of Morneau. “He’s really fighting through everything right now.”

Joe Crede is also back in the lineup as the DH for the Twins.

Here are today’s lineups:

A’s (63-77)
4th place in AL West, 21 games back
Rajai Davis, CF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Kurt Suzuki, C
Scott Hairston, LF
Nomar Garciaparra, 1B
Bobby Crosby, 3B
Ryan Sweeney, RF
Landon Powell, C
Cliff Pennington, SS
Pitching: LHP Gio Gonzalez (5-5, 5.76)

Twins (70-72)
3rd place in AL Central, 5.5 games back

Denard Span, RF
Orlando Cabrera, SS
Joe Mauer, C
Michael Cuddyer, 1B
Delmon Young, LF
Joe Crede, DH
Brendan Harris, 3B
Carlos Gomez, CF
Nick Punto, 2B
Pitching: LHP Brian Duensing (2-1, 3.94)

A reminder you can follow me on Twitter  @kellythesier