October 2010

Twins pick up Kubel’s option, decline Punto’s option

By: Kelly Thesier/MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins have exercised Jason Kubel’s club option for the 2011 season and they’ve declined Nick Punto’s club option, the team announced Friday morning.

Kubel’s salary in 2011 will be $5.25 million. He batted .249 with 21 home runs and 92 RBIs in 143 games with the Twins in 2010. After starting last season as the club’s everyday designated hitter, Kubel spent nearly the entire second half playing in right field for the Twins. He was used almost exclusively in right field after Michael Cuddyer shifted to first base in the absence of Justin Morneau, who suffered a season-ending concussion on July 7.

The Twins chose not to exercise Punto’s $5 million option for the 2011 season. Punto, who will receive a $500,000 buyout, will become a free agent.

Punto played in 88 games for the Twins in 2010. He batted .238 with 11 doubles, one triple, one home run and 20 RBIs. The infielder was hampered by a strained left hamstring late in the season and he went on the disabled list twice with the injury.

Win or go home: Twins at Yankees Game 3

By: Kelly Thesier/MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins know the task ahead of them if they want to continue in the postseason: win three straight games over the Yankees.

But of course, that all starts with winning Game 3 on Saturday night at Yankee Stadium if the Twins are to keep their season alive. And the Twins players talked at length during Friday’s workout about focusing on one game at a time.

Left-hander Brian Duensing is making his second ALDS start at Yankee Stadium. The first came last year in Game 1 when Duensing got the start after the Twins used all of their other starters down the stretch to force a Game 163 and earn the AL Central title. This time, Duensing knows what awaits him in the start and he sounded ready for the job.

Manager Ron Gardenhire had talked about moving a left-handed hitter
behind Joe Mauer since the team is facing right-hander Phil Hughes in Game 3. Jason Kubel got the nod in the cleanup spot, although he currently has a .080 career postseason batting average. Kubel has two hits in three
career regular season at-bats against Hughes.

Gardenhire also had mentioned that he might start Alexi Casilla to give more speed in the lineup. But J.J. Hardy is at shortstop and all nine players in the lineup are the same as in Games 1 and 2.

Twins

(0-2)

Denard Span, CF

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

Cuddyer, 1B
Danny Valencia, 3B
J.J. Hardy, SS

Pitching: LHP Brian Duensing

(10-3, 2.62 ERA this season)

Yankees (2-0)

Derek Jeter, SS

Nick Swisher, RF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson

Cano, 2B
Marcus Thames, DH
Jorge Posada, C
Curtis Granderson,
CF
Brett
Gardner, LF

Pitching: RHP Phil
Hughes(18-8, 4.19 ERA this season)

A
reminder
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can follow me on Twitter  @kellythesier

“Almost a do-or-die type thing” — Twins vs. Yankees Game 2

By: Kelly Thesier/MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS — Twins manager Ron Gardenhire didn’t mince words when talking about tonight’s Game 2 of the AL Division Series against the Yankees.

“This is a huge game,” Gardenhire said. “This is almost a do-or-die type thing. You don’t want to go into New York 0-2. I try not to put pressure on guys but this is one that we’ve got to get. We need to get this game. It’s very important.”

When the Twins set up their rotation, one of the reasons for putting Carl Pavano as the starter in Game 2 was to give the team a stabilizing force in case they fell behind 0-1. So now the task is on Pavano to be the leader that he’s been all season.

It’s certainly not an easy thing to come back from a loss in Game 1 of a best-of-five division series. The last team to do it was the Tigers in 2006 when they lost Game 1 in New York to the Yankees and then won three straight against the club en route to winning the World Series.

Now the Twins have to see if they can put together a similar type run.

Yankees (1-0)

Derek Jeter, SS

Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson
Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Jorge Posada, C
Lance Berkman, DH
Brett Gardner, LF

Pitching: LHP Andy Pettitte

(11-3, 3.28 ERA this season)

Twins

(0-1)

Denard Span, CF

Orlando Hudson, 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 Carl Pavano

(17-11, 3.75 ERA this season)

A
reminder
you
can follow me on Twitter  @kellythesier

And so it begins: Twins vs. Yankees Game 1

By: Kelly Thesier/MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS — The buzz has been building in the Twin Cities all day and no, it’s not about the fact that Randy Moss is now back with the Vikings.

Tonight, the Twins officially host the first playoff game at Target Field and the storyline is set with the vaunted Yankees as the opponent. So the Twin will try to see if they can end this streak of three postseason series losses to the Yankees and head back to the ALCS for the first time since 2002.

Big news of the day was that the roster has now been set. Both Jon Rauch and Scott Baker made the roster while Kevin Slowey was left off. Rauch’s left knee is well enough for him to pitch and Gardy said that they liked Baker’s ability to strike out the Yankees over Slowey’s pitch-to-contact stuff at least for this series.

And now it’s up to the Twins to see if they can make a statement in Game 1. To me, this seems to be one of the most confident Twins teams that I’ve seen in my five years on the beat. Of course it helps that this is the first time over that span they’ve been able to rest their team and set up the rotation for the postseason. Will it make a difference? Starting tonight, we’ll see.

Yankees (0-0)

Derek Jeter, SS

Nick Swisher, RF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Marcus Thames, DH
Jorge Posada, C
Curtis Granderson, CF
Brett Gardner, LF

Pitching: LHP CC Sabathia

(21-7, 3.18 ERA this season)

Twins

(0-0)

Denard Span, CF

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

Pitching: LHP Francisco Liriano

(14-10, 3.62 ERA this season)

A
reminder
you
can follow me on Twitter  @kellythesier

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