July 2010

A little baseball on Trade Deadline day: Twins vs. Mariners 7/31

By: Kelly Thesier/MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS — Most of the focus today in baseball has been centered around the 3 p.m. CT non-waiver Trade Deadline.

But the Twins do have a big matchup against the Mariners tonight as well. They’ll face Felix Hernandez who is 4-3 with a 2.56 ERA in 10 career starts against the Twins.

Here are the lineups:

Mariners
(39-65)

Ichiro Suzuki, RF
Chone Figgins, 2B
Casey Kotchman, 1B
Russell
Branyan, DH
Franklin Gutierrez, CF
Michael Saunders, LF
Josh
Bard, C
Matt Tuiasosopo, 3B
Jack Wilson, SS
Pitching: RHP Felix Hernandez (7-7, 2.86 ERA) 


Twins

(57-46)

Denard Span, CF

Alexi Casilla, 2B
Joe Mauer, C
Delmon Young, LF
Jim Thome, DH
Michael Cuddyer, 1B
Jason Kubel, RF
Danny Valencia, 3B

J.J. Hardy, SS

Pitching: RHP Kevin Slowey

(9-5, 4.76 ERA)

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Trade Deadline passes

By: Kelly Thesier/MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS — Today’s 3 p.m. CT non-waiver Trade Deadline has passed and it appears that the Twins did not make any additional moves, having already acquired closer Matt Capps late on Thursday night.

In addition to seeking bullpen help, the Twins had also been on the lookout for a starting pitcher. The rumor mill was quiet on Saturday in regards to the Twins, although the common thought in the days leading up to the deadline was that prices for starting pitchers were too high for the Twins.

Of course this doesn’t mean that the Twins are done making moves to help the club down the stretch. While the non-waiver deadline has passed, teams still have an opportunity to acquire players in August. But deals involving
players on the 40-man roster cannot be made unless the players have
already cleared waivers. In other words, the player must be offered to
the other teams in reverse order of the standings, and if he is claimed
by one of the teams, he cannot be traded. The club that placed the
player on waivers can either withdraw the request and keep the player,
let the player go to the claiming team, or work out a trade with the
claiming team.

Last year the Twins were one of the busiest teams in August– acquiring Carl Pavano and Jon Rauch in waiver trades while signing reliever Ron Mahay to a contract after he was released by the Royals.

We’re scheduled to speak with Twins GM Bill Smith a little later this evening so I”ll have more later.

Capps joins new teammates — Twins vs. Mariners 7/30

By: Kelly Thesier/MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS — Matt Capps has arrived at Target Field and he spent over 10 minutes right before batting practice speaking with the local media. By all accounts he seemed like a great guy and one who will fit in well in the Twins clubhouse.

Capps is wearing No. 55 and when asked about his entrance music, Capps said he’s never actually chosen it himself. But since he was pitching well with the Nationals’ choice of “The Final Countdown” by Europe, it’s likely that he’ll keep that here at Target Field as well.

Lots of roster moves here today, which I blogged about earlier. To make room for Capps, the Twins optioned right-hander Nick Blackburn to Triple-A Rochester. The move should allow Blackburn to pitch more and hopefully get himself back on track.

Nick Punto was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring and the Twins recalled infielder Trevor Plouffe to take his spot on the roster.

Justin Morneau was at Target Field today and took some light swings off a tee for the first time since suffering a concussion on July 7. Morneau said things have been progressing, albeit slower than he’d like. He’s still trying to work through not having any lingering effects later in the day after he’s done some activity. So there is still no exact timetable for him to return as he said they’ll take it “day by day.”

Oh yeah, and there is a game tonight too as the Twins host the Mariners for the start of a three-game series here.

Here are the lineups:

Mariners (39-64)

Ichiro Suzuki, RF
Chone Figgins, 2B
Casey Kotchman, 1B
Russell Branyan, DH
Franklin Gutierrez, CF
Michael Saunders, LF
Josh Bard, C
Josh Wilson, 3B
Jack Wilson, SS
Pitching: RHP Doug Fister (3-6, 3.56 ERA) 


Twins

(56-46)

Denard Span, CF

Alexi Casilla, 2B
Joe Mauer, C
Delmon Young, LF
Jason Kubel, RF
Michael Cuddyer, 1B
Jim Thome, DH
Danny Valencia, 3B

J.J. Hardy, SS

Pitching: RHP Scott Baker

(8-9, 5.00 ERA)

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Twins roster moves for Friday

By: Kelly Thesier/MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins made a flurry of roster moves on Friday afternoon, opening up a spot for new closer Matt Capps as well as placing infielder Nick Punto on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring.

To clear room on the roster for Capps, the Twins optioned right-hander Nick Blackburn to Triple-A Rochester. Blackburn had been pitching in the bullpen since he was replaced in the rotation by left-hander Brian Duensing. The move to the Minors should give Blackburn more of an opportunity to pitch and get himself back in form, including mentally.

Shortstop Trevor
Plouffe was promoted from Rochester to take Punto’s roster spot. Punto injured his left hamstring in the eighth inning on Wednesday during a lunge at first base following a bunt base hit.

Twins acquire Matt Capps

By: Kelly Thesier/MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins have acquired closer Matt Capps and cash from the Nationals in exchange for catching prospect Wilson Ramos and left-handed pitching prospect Joe Testa.

Capps, 26, has 26 saves and a 2.74 ERA for the Nationals this season. He
has around $1.3 million remaining of his $3.5 million salary and will be under the Twins control for 2011 as an arbitration-eligible player.

The deal helps to bolster the Twins’ bullpen, which recently lost one of its late-inning options when Brian Duensing was moved into the rotation. Capps will likely fill the role of closer, under the assumption that manager Ron Gardenhire decides to move Jon Rauch back into a set-up role.

Ramos, who had been labeled as the Twins’ No. 2 prospect, was batting .241 with five home runs and 30 RBIs for Triple-A Rochester this season. Ramos had been considered to be the Twins’ best trade chip since Spring Training when the club signed Joe Mauer to an eight-year, $184 million extension. Ramos was a late scratch from Rochester’s lineup on Thursday night, fueling further speculation that a trade was in the works.

Will the hits keep coming? — Twins vs. Royals 7/28

By: Kelly Thesier/MLB.com

KANSAS CITY — The Twins offense has been producing absurd numbers over the last four games and even Michael Cuddyer had to laugh when he was told last night that the club had 72 hits in the stretch of four contests.

Cuddyer’s reaction is no surprise considering that according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Twins are only the third team in the last 100 years to score 10-or-more runs and have at least 19 hits in three consecutive games (others were Giants in 1933 and the Pirates in 1928).

The 72 hits are also the most the Twins have had in a four-game stretch in club history. The previous record for hits over four games was 62 from June 16-19, 2003.

But more importantly, the Twins enter the final game of this seven-game roadtrip with a 5-1 record having picked up series wins against two teams they clearly needed to beat. It already is a tremendous roadtrip and a sweep over the Royals today would certainly only help that.

Left-hander Brian Duensing will make his second start today. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said that Duensing should be able to throw around 85 pitches, although that will depend on how he fares as it’s expected to be in the mid to upper 90s today in Kansas City with the heat index.

Jim Thome is 9-for-26 (.346) with three home runs in his career against Royals right-hander Brian Bannister but he is not in the lineup today. Gardenhire said that he thinks the hotel beds in Kansas City have bothered Thome’s back, so the club will give him a day of rest and the hope is he’ll be feeling better when the team returns to action on Friday at home against the Mariners.

Twins

(55-46)

Denard Span, CF

Alexi Casilla, 2B
Joe Mauer, C
Delmon Young, LF
Jason Kubel, DH
Michael Cuddyer, 1B
Danny Valencia, 3B
Jason Repko, RF

Nick Punto, SS

Pitching: LHP Brian Duensing
(3-1, 1.69 ERA)

Royals
(42-58)

Scott Podsednik, LF
Willie Bloomquist, RF
Billy Butler, 1B
Jose Guillen, DH
Wilson Betemit, 3B
Mike Aviles, 2B
Rick Ankiel, CF
Brayan Pena, C
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS

Pitching: RHP Brian Bannister (7-9, 5.73 ERA) 

A
reminder
you
can follow me on Twitter  @kellythesier 

Blackburn to ‘pen and Duensing to the rotation

By: Kelly Thesier/MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins addressed their struggling rotation on Wednesday, moving Nick Blackburn to the bullpen temporarily and shifting left-hander Brian Duensing into Blackburn’s spot in the rotation.

Twins acting manager Scott Ullger announced the move
before Wednesday’s afternoon game against the Indians. Manager Ron Gardenhire was
tending to a family matter and was not at Target Field.

The move is considered temporary and will allow the Twins to give
Blackburn a mental break. Duensing, who has a 1.67 ERA in 43 relief innings, will start Friday in Baltimore against the Orioles.

Blackburn is not the only starter to be struggling of late, but his troubles have perhaps been the most pronounced. After going 6-1 with a 4.28 ERA through the first two months of the season, Blackburn has been unable to produce similar results. In his last nine starts, Blackburn is 1-6 with a 9.88 ERA and 11 home runs allowed. Opposing teams are hitting .378 over that stretch with a .426 on-base percentage.

Trying to avoid the sweep: Twins vs. Indians 7/21

By: Kelly Thesier/MLB.com

Indians (39-54)
Asdrubal
Cabrera, SS
Jayson Nix, LF
Carlos Santana, DH
Jhonny Peralta, 3B
Matt LaPorta, 1B
Shelley Duncan,
RF
Trevor Crowe, CF
Jason Donald, 2B
Chris Gimenez, C

Pitching: RHP Jake Westbrook (6-5, 4.67 ERA)

Twins

(49-45)

Denard Span, CF

Orlando Hudson, 2B
Delmon Young, LF
Jason Kubel, RF
Michael Cuddyer, 1B
Jim Thome,
DH

J.J. Hardy, SS
Nick Punto, 3B
Drew Butera, C

Pitching: LHP Francisco Liriano
(7-7, 3.76 ERA)

A
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Slama Time: Twins vs. Indians 7/20

By: Kelly Thesier/MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins will try to see if they can slow down the surging Indians, who have now won five straight contests following last night’s 10-4 victory in the series opener.

Kevin Slowey will be making the start tonight and it’s possible that he’s pitching for a spot in the rotation. The Twins have stretched out Brian Duensing in preparation for a possible move into a starting role and right now it just seems to be which spot he’ll take. For the club’s upcoming series against the Orioles, two of the rotation spots are currently listed as TBA — the two spots that would belong to Nick Blackburn and Slowey.

So we’ll see what happens after tonight.

As for news, right-hander Anthony Slama’s flight was scheduled to arrive in the Twin Cities sometime this afternoon but he had not arrived at the ballpark by the time batting practice started. He’s expected to be here by game time and he’ll wear No. 39 for the Twins.

Jon Rauch’s ankle is feeling better after he was struck by a line drive. He told manager Ron Gardenhire that he’s available to pitch but Gardenhire said the club will likely stay away from the reliever so it’s unclear who might close if there is a save situation.

Indians (38-54)
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
Jayson Nix, LF
Carlos Santana, C
Travis
Hafner, DH
Jhonny Peralta, 3B
Matt LaPorta, 1B
Shelley Duncan, RF
Trevor Crowe, CF
Jason Donald, 2B

Pitching: RHP Justin Masterson (3-8, 5.31 ERA)

Twins

(49-44)

Denard Span, CF

Orlando Hudson, 2B
Joe Mauer, C
Jason Kubel, RF
Michael Cuddyer, 1B
Jim Thome,
DH
Delmon Young, LF

J.J. Hardy, SS
Nick Punto, 3B

Pitching: RHP Kevin Slowey (8-5, 4.95 ERA)

A
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can follow me on Twitter  @kellythesier 

Morneau expected to miss more time: Twins vs. Indians 7/19

By: Kelly Thesier/MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS — Twins first baseman Justin Morneau continues to battle symptoms from the concussion he suffered on July 7 and likely won’t be ready to return when he’s eligible to come off the disabled list on Friday.

Manager Ron Gardenhire said Monday that it’s doubtful Morneau will make the trip with the team to Baltimore later this week. Morneau has been feeling better when he wakes up in the morning but some of his symptoms — including headaches and some grogginess — return later in the day.

“You talk to him, he’s groggy and he can’t do anything about it,” Gardenhire said. “How long it’s going to last, no one
knows. The doctors can only guess.It’s how the player feels. And when the symptoms leave he can get 
back to baseball activities.”

The Twins will take on the Indians without their cleanup hitter this week and Cleveland is coming off a four-game sweep of the Tigers. For the Twins, they’ll try to capitalize after taking three of four from the White Sox and pulling themselves into a tie for second with Detroit, sitting 1 1/2 games behind Chicago in the AL Central race.


Indians (38-54)
Michael Brantley, CF
Jayson Nix, 2B
Carlos Santana, C
Austin Kearns, RF
Travis Hafner, DH
Jhonny Peralta, 3B
Matt LaPorta, 1B
Trevor Crowe, LF
Jason Donald, SS

Pitching: LHP Aaron Laffey (1-3, 5.12 ERA)

Twins

(49-43)

Denard Span, CF

Orlando Hudson, 2B
Joe Mauer, C
Michael Cuddyer, 1B
Jason Kubel, RF
Delmon Young, LF
Jim Thome, DH
Danny
Valencia, 3B

J.J. Hardy, SS

Pitching: RHP Scott Baker
(7-8, 4.87 ERA)

A
reminder
you
can follow me on Twitter  @kellythesier 

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