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Twins show fight, but drop fifth straight

May 12, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — As he saw Matt Tolbert’s double headed to the gap in right, the only thing on Twins outfielder Ben Revere’s mind was scoring from first base. With his head down, Revere took off, quickly rounding second and then third.

With the relay coming in, Revere slid between the legs of catcher Alex Avila, as the throw from Tigers second baseman Scott Sizemore went wide. Revere was safe, tying the game, but he paid a price for his efforts, taking a hard hit to the chin from Avila’s knee.

“I was running top speed trying to tie this game, and luckily I was able to tie the game at that point,” Revere said. “I really did not know. Some guys said I flipped the catcher over, but I got hit in the chin a little bit. It looked like I got more of the collision than he did, but I did anything I could to sacrifice my body to score that run.”

That hustle and determination from Revere, which drew a standing ovation from the crowd of 38,938 at Target Field, was a little like the way Wednesday’s game went for the Twins. Every time they worked hard to come back from a deficit, they were knocked back down by the Tigers, who came away with the 9-7 victory for the two-game series sweep.

“Kind of a wild one out there today,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “Opportunities lost and we also picked up some big hits and battled our tails off to get back in it. But we didn’t make enough pitches.”

After coming from behind three times to tie the game or take the lead on Wednesday, the Twins were all out of comebacks in the ninth inning.

Entering the inning tied at seven runs apiece, closer Matt Capps surrendered a pair of runs in the final frame, giving the game back to the Tigers yet again.

It was a forgettable outing for Capps, who served up a two-run blast in the eighth to Jhonny Peralta, but still had a chance to pick up the win after the Twins tied it in the bottom half of the inning on Tolbert’s RBI double.

“It was a slider that I left up,” Capps said. “I just left it up over the plate and he hit it.”

According to Peralta, there was a bit of luck involved, too.

“I’m not looking for that pitch,” Peralta said. “I’m looking for a sinker and he threw me a slider right there. I don’t know how I made good contact, but it’s working.”

Peralta’s home run came just after the Twins appeared to have made the comeback needed for a thrilling victory.

Following a one-out RBI double in the seventh that cut the lead to two runs, designated hitter Jason Kubel crushed a 1-1 sinker from Tigers reliever Daniel Schlereth 460 feet into the right field seats for a three-run blast. In their 35th game, it was the Twins’ first three-run home run of the year.

Kubel’s home run was his team-leading fourth of the season, and his four RBIs in the game also put him in the team lead with 20. He added a single and a walk on a 2-for-4 day as the Twins broke out the bats for a couple late rallies that were all for naught.

“It definitely shifted the momentum on our side,” Kubel said of the home run. “But they came right back and put us back down. But we fought back, and then it got away from us again.”

With a thin bullpen, the Twins were hoping for a quality start from right-hander Scott Baker. Instead, Baker delivered a shaky, walk-filled 4 1/3 innings that put his team in a 5-2 hole through five innings.

Baker had been brilliant in his last four starts, going 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA while averaging seven innings per game. Over that span, Baker racked up 25 strikeouts against only four walks.

He continued to add to his strikeout total on Wednesday, recording six, but walks became a problem again for Baker, just as they have been for the rest of the Twins pitching staff early this season. Baker issued five bases on balls, marking a career high for the right-hander.

“Just a couple mechanical issues where at times mechanically you’re not where you need to be,” Baker said. “That translates to your hand not being where it needs to be which translates to the ball not going where you want it to go.

“Obviously we’re not robots, we’re human beings. So sometimes it’s harder to make that adjustment than others. Today, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make that adjustment.”

Baker’s walks were not the only ones that hurt the Twins on the day.

Lefty reliever Jose Mijares walked Brennan Boesch with one out in the eighth, which set up Peralta’s two-run, pinch-hit blast off Capps one batter later. With his team issuing eight walks on the day, Gardenhire was not at all pleased.

“You walk people there at the end of the ballgame, you don’t want to put anybody on base,” Gardenhire said. “That’s not being too fine, that’s just not throwing it over. You’ve got to have courage, too. Courage is throwing the ball over the plate, making them swing the bat and hopefully we’ll catch it. Sometimes you back away and you shy away and that’s not good enough.”

Gardenhire also was unhappy with the missed opportunities in the game offensively. In particular, he could not understand how center fielder Denard Span was unable to score from second base on Luke Hughes’ double in the seventh.

As Gardenhire saw it, Span should have been at least halfway to third on the play, and as the team’s fastest runner, should have scored easily.

Span eventually scored on Kubel’s home run, but it was a mistake that could have cost the Twins had it not been for their designated hitter’s three-run blast. As much as injuries, illnesses and offensive struggles have been an issue for the Twins early this season, fundamental lapses have found their way into the mix as well.

That, Gardenhire says, is something that needs to be fixed for them to start winning games.

“The fundamental stuff and the little stuff we have done so well, these guys have been part of that,” he said. “There are not any guys out there on the field who have not been part of that through Spring Training and part of the season.

“So you can’t tell me you don’t know. You can’t tell me that. It’s just not getting it done.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rare hailstorm delays Tigers and Twins

May 10, 2011 Comments off

By Jordan Schelling / MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS — When Tuesday’s game began at Target Field, it was an unseasonably warm 87 degrees and very humid, but it was an otherwise beautiful evening for baseball.That all changed about an hour into the game when severe storms started rolling into the area. Dark skies poured rain down on the Tigers and Twins, causing the game to be stopped at 8:17 p.m. CT, during the bottom of the fourth inning, and things got even more interesting during the 62-minute delay.

As tornado warnings were issued for the area and funnel clouds were spotted in other parts of the city, rain gave way to hail, ranging in size from pebbles to golf balls, which covered the field.

“That was a first in the big leagues, no doubt,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of the hail delay.

Gardenhire was not the only one who saw a hail delay for the first time. On both sides, players who were asked about it said they’d never seen anything like it.

“I’ve never seen that. It was big. First time for me that I’ve seen that in a game,” said the Tigers’ Jhonny Peralta, who has spent his career in the American League Central and has seen plenty of wintry weather during games. “I’ve seen everything. I’ve seen a lot of snow. I’ve seen ice rain.”

A good portion of the delay was due to the time needed to clear the hailstones from the field. In addition to putting down Quick Dry on wet spots in the infield, the grounds crew grabbed rakes, shovels and buckets to collect the hailstones that had fallen in the outfield and in foul territory. Detroit won the game, 10-2.

Twins designated hitter Jason Kubel thought the hailstorm was fitting, considering everything else that has gone wrong this season for the club.

“It just makes perfect sense,” Kubel said. “Why not?”

Many had fun with the storm, including a few players.

Young fans could be seen throughout various parts of the stadium having the hail equivalent of snowball fights, tossing the small balls of ice at each other.

In the visitors’ dugout, Tigers ace Justin Verlander could be seen tossing hailstones back onto the field. Later, Verlander broke out the fungo bat and took a few swings as teammate Phil Coke pitched the balls of ice to him.

“They were big ones,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of the hail. “When somebody talks about golf ball-sized hail, that was it, to the fact.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Running gamer 4/2

April 2, 2010 Comments off

Today was my first day as an Associate Reporter (intern) with MLB.com. Below is the “running gamer” that I wrote and submitted after the top of the eighth inning. It was just for practice and did not go on the website. Enjoy.

After falling behind 2-0 early, the Milwaukee Brewers answered with three runs in the bottom of the second inning Friday to down the Detroit Tigers 3-2 at Miller Park.

In the first of two exhibition games between the two teams in Milwaukee, starting pitcher Doug Davis allowed leadoff home runs in each of the first two innings.

Rookie center fielder Austin Jackson connected on a 0-1 pitch for a solo home run to right in his first at bat in a big league park with the Tigers. Third baseman Brandon Inge followed suit in the second inning, knocking a 1-0 offering out to left, giving Detroit an early 2-0 lead.

Milwaukee answered quickly, plating three runs in the bottom of the inning. Casey McGehee got things started for the Brewers, drawing a walk after a Prince Fielder groundout. Catcher Gregg Zaun followed with the first of four straight singles for Milwaukee, a drive into the right field corner that moved McGehee to third.

Corey Hart drove in McGehee with a single and shortstop Alcides Escobar’s infield single off the glove of Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer, loading the bases for Jody Gerut. Batting in the ninth spot as the Brewers’ designated hitter, Gerut delivered for Milwaukee with a two-run single up the middle.

Gerut’s single put the Brewers on top 3-2, a lead they would not relinquish. Detroit threatened late, loading the bases with one out in the eighth, but failed to score.