Minnesota Twins pitchers Nick Blackburn (left) and Matt Guerrier flank legendary Twin Tony Oliva during a stop Thursday at the Old #1 Southside in Morris. Photo by Nancy Woodke, Sun Tribune.
The Minnesota Twins Caravan stopped in Morris Thursday, and players spoke of their anticipation of playing in the new Target Field this spring.
Twins legend Tony Oliva led a contingent that included pitchers Matt Guerrier and Nick Blackburn during an hour-long stop at the Old #1 Southside.
The players spoke with fans, signed autographs and showed a video about the new stadium and the Twins' upcoming 2010 season.
Check this Web site's Photo Gallery section Friday afternoon for more photos from the Caravan.
It's That Time Again: Twins Fest!, Jan.30, 2010, 6:42pm CT "The Twins took a detour this weekend on their way to Target Field, visiting the warmer Metrodome for Twinsfest, Eric Nelson reports (2:01).
Opening of Target Field "new stadium"
2010 Winter at Target Field -Twins Home
"A look from the outside of the Minnesota Twins' new stadium-Target Field in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. I took this video clip with a friend on our way to the annual Twins Fest at Mall of America Field (formerly known as the "Metrodome")..."
Minnesota Twins Target Field Construction Time-Lapse
Twins Target Field Tour
"Dave Lee Tours the brand-new, almost finished home of the Minnesota Twins, Target Field! " Twins stadium builder plans move to Africa Posted at: 04/22/2010 11:37 PM | KSAX.com
By: Susanna Song and Becky Nahm "A Farmington man who reached the pinnacle of his career and fulfilled a childhood dream by building a stadium for the Twins is making a major life change.
Stephen Prince was the senior project manager for Target Field. For the past two and a half years, he was the go-to person for all steel-related jobs at the site.
He said, "That would be on the top of every resume I would send out for the rest of my life for sure."
While Prince is proud of his achievement, he now has a new life goal.
"I just feel a lacking in my heart, that I need to be making a difference, doing something of eternal significance," Prince said.
That "something" is to help orphans in a tiny African country called Swaziland.
Prince's wife Krista said, "The population is 42 percent HIV positive--highest in the world. The average life expectancy is 29 years of age."
The Princes are selling their possessions and moving, with their three kids, to Swaziland where they hope to help others.
Prince said, "Most of the responses are shock. We get a lot of people who go glass-eyed, fears in their eyes, like you guys have lost it."
Instead they say they have found peace.
"God says I have given you your dream, helped you build your dream. Now come with me and build mine," said Krista Prince.
The family plans to move as soon as they sell their house and raise funds. They hope to move at the end of the summer.
*see GoodnewsEverybody.com African of Africa
"MINNEAPOLIS -- Denard Span's triple and home run in Friday night's exhibition game against the Cardinals at Target Field won't go down in the record books as official firsts by a Major Leaguer at the new ballpark since it is not yet the regular season.
But there's no doubt that Span put on quite a show in the first outdoor contest played by the Twins in Minnesota since 1981. ...
Mauer played eight innings behind the plate in Friday night's 8-4 loss to the Cardinals and said afterward that he felt really good. ..
I had the opportunity (free parking-found a great spot by chance) to see the second Twins game at Target Field on April 3rd of 2010..
Target Field: Twins vs Cards on Saturday, April 3rd 10' Third Baseline
"This is a clip from the Twins batting in the bottom of the 8th inning. They ended up adding 3 additional runs to their 8-3 win. The video was taken along the third base line of Target Field during the Twins vs. Cardinals Game #2 of the Spring Exhibition game in Minneapolis, Minnesota. "
"Cardinals at the plate: Jason LaRue tallied a couple of base hits in his return from a bone bruise on his left hand, and he drove in St. Louis' first run. Albert Pujols hit three balls very hard, with a double, a hard line drive to left field and a ball that Delmon Young caught just in front of the wall in left. David Freese cranked a solo homer in the seventh.
Twins at the plate: Minnesota jumped on starter Jaime Garcia quickly, plating three runs in the first two innings. Joe Mauer crushed a solo homer to straightaway center in the first, and three straight singles and an error led to two runs in the second. Michael Cuddyer added a solo homer for insurance in the sixth.
Cardinals on the mound: Garcia was a little bit better than his line suggested, as he struck out four with no walks and got a slew of ground balls. But he also was touched for a pair of home runs, and allowed four runs on eight hits through 5 1/3 innings. Mitchell Boggs allowed a hit in two-thirds of an inning, and Blake Hawksworth surrendered a run in one inning as he returned from a groin injury.
Twins on the mound: Starter Kevin Slowey was sharp and efficient. Slowey needed a mere 81 pitches (60 strikes) to get through 6 2/3 innings. He allowed two runs on six hits, struck out three and walked one. Matt Guerrier allowed a hit in a shutout eighth. New closer Jon Rauch allowed one run on a walk and a hit in the ninth.
Worth noting: Felipe Lopez turned an impressive unassisted double play in the seventh inning when he made a diving stop of Brian Dinkelman's low line drive, then scrambled along the dirt to tag the third-base bag and double off Alexi Casilla.
Up next: The Cardinals have a short flight to the east after the game, heading to Cincinnati for the lidlifter at Great American Ball Park. An opener in Cincinnati is one of the game's great traditions, and the Cardinals will send Chris Carpenter to the mound for his fifth career Opening Day start on Monday. The Reds counter with Aaron Harang in a game that starts at 12:10 p.m. CT.
The Twins, meanwhile, fly west for four games in Anaheim to open the season. It's the only season-opening series between 2009 division champions. Scott Baker makes his first Opening Day start on Monday, facing Jered Weaver, as the Twins officially debut their new double-play combination of J.J. Hardy and Orlando Hudson. First pitch is set for 9:05 p.m.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs."
" NEW YORK -- After their losing streak stretched to 12 games against the Yankees following Saturday's 7-1 loss, the Twins wondered what it might take for the club to turn its luck around.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire reiterated that it was just one big hit or one big inning that his club needed to finally get over the hump and end its struggles vs. this Yankees squad -- particularly in New York. Denard Span said that Minnesota might need to score 30 runs in the series finale to pick up a win, although he joked that New York still would probably score 27.
Certainly, it seemed that something dramatic was required for the Twins to snap their 12-game skid vs. the Yankees, which included last year's sweep in the American League Division Series, and pick up their first win in the Bronx since July 4, 2007. But Minnesota probably didn't envision it happening like this.
Jason Kubel belted a two-out grand slam off Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in the eighth inning as Minnesota finally saw that streak come to an end with a 6-3 victory over New York on Sunday afternoon before a crowd of 46,628 at Yankee Stadium.
"That doesn't happen very often, so take pictures," Gardenhire said afterward about Rivera giving up the grand slam. "He's as good as they get. The best I've ever seen in the game."
Kubel's homer certainly was memorable as it was just the fourth career grand slam given up by Rivera and the first he's allowed at home since becoming a reliever. The last grand slam off Rivera came on Bill Selby's game-ending shot for Cleveland on July 14, 2002.
"It's a pretty good feeling," Kubel said of his grand slam. "It's an even better feeling that we finally beat them."
Trailing by two runs to start the eighth, the Twins got their rally started against reliever Joba Chamberlain. With runners on first and second and two outs, Michael Cuddyer hit a ball that hit the top of first baseman Mark Teixeira's glove and fell in for a single to load the bases.
That's when Rivera, who hadn't allowed a run in 11 innings this season, was called in for what would have been a four-out save. Facing Jim Thome, a career .299 hitter with the bases loaded, Rivera walked in his first run since 2005.
Next up was Kubel, who was batting .224 entering the game and had gone 0-for-3 with two strikeouts to start the afternoon. But on a 1-0 cutter inside from Rivera, he blasted a shot deep into the right-field bleachers for his sixth career grand slam and first since April 17, 2009.
"It was a good pitch that was off the plate," Kubel said. "This time, I actually kept my hands inside of one and made decent contact. It wasn't way in, but it was in enough that I usually don't make contact with that pitch."
Rivera seemed more upset with himself about the bases-loaded walk he issued to Thome than the pitch Kubel hit for the grand slam.
"It was low, and he just dropped the head of the bat," Rivera said. "Those things are going to happen. They're professional hitters, and sometimes they're going to hit it. Not that I'm happy with that, but I understand those things are going to happen. But the walk is again unacceptable."
Bases-loaded walks and grand slams off Rivera are certainly rare, but it's been the same case with victories for the Twins here in the Bronx.
Minnesota entered Sunday with a 5-29 record in New York since 2002, when Gardenhire took over as manager.
So it's no surprise that not even a slam off Rivera would exactly seal a victory for the Twins. First, they had to overcome a few more nerve-racking moments before the victory could be completely sealed.
The Yankees tried to mount a rally in the ninth, when closer Jon Rauch gave up a pair of singles to start the inning, bringing Derek Jeter up as the tying run to the plate. But Rauch struck out New York's Nos. 1-3 hitters in order to give him save No. 10, and more importantly, the first win for the Twins in the Bronx in nearly three years.
"It kind of gets that monkey off your back for the most part," Cuddyer said.
Much has been made about the Twins' struggles against the Yankees, and for the early part of the contest, it appeared that perhaps they would watch another opportunity pass.
Minnesota had already watched one early lead disappear. Justin Morneau homered off Yankees starter Sergio Mitre to lead off the second inning, giving the Twins a 1-0 lead. But like so many times in this ballpark, Minnesota couldn't hold onto that lead as the slim advantage soon disappeared.
Starter Nick Blackburn gave up three runs to the Yankees, but he delivered yet another solid start with minimal damage over his seven innings. And he kept his club close enough to rally for the victory against a New York team that Minnesota will face three more times next week at Target Field.
"[This win] is going to help out just to let us see that they are a beatable team," Blackburn said. "They all have their weaknesses also. It's just a matter of us going out there and exposing their weaknesses. ... Hopefully today gets us rolling and helps us realize that we can beat these guys."
His team's futility against the Yankees was something that Gardenhire was reminded of constantly since his club arrived in New York, and the headlines in local papers declared the Twins having a case of "Bronx-itis."
But Gardenhire said after the victory that he's focused on a new number.
"We're 1-0 now against the Yankees in our one game," Gardenhire said. "We'll construe the numbers any way we want to now."
He then added one more thing.
"Oh, my cold is better, too," Gardenhire said. "My 'itis." "
The Twins' 10-game regular-season losing streak at Yankee Stadium is over thanks to Jason Kubel's sixth career grand slam in the eighth off Mariano Rivera. The win in the Bronx was the first for Minnesota since '07.
Minn & NYY "
Recap: MIN 6, NYY 3
* Added: 05/16/10
Daily Recap: Jason Kubel launched a grand slam against Mariano Rivera as the Twins shocked the Yankees in New York
" PHILADELPHIA -- This was a game that featured so many rallies, twists, and turns.
In the end, the Twins had to be elated and exhausted at the same time.
The Twins trailed by five runs through eight innings, but showed some remarkable resolve against the Phillies by rallying for five runs in the ninth inning, one in the 10th, and three more in the 11th.
Delmon Young delivered the game-winning run when he hit an infield single to shortstop, scoring Joe Mauer for a stunning 13-10 victory in 11 innings before a sellout crowd of 45,254 at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday.
Drew Butera slammed a pinch-hit homer to left off Chad Durbin to open the 10th. It was the first career homer for Butera, who was just 6-for-39 before the homer.
Jim Thome hit a monstrous pinch-hit homer to center in the ninth off Jose Contreras, closing the gap to 9-6. Thome has now homered off all 30 Major League clubs.
Denard Span added an RBI single and Mauer dealt the clutch blow with a two-run homer to center off Phillies closer Brad Lidge, tying the game at 9. For Mauer, it was only his third home run of the season, but it came at just the right time.
The Phillies were far from done, though, as pinch-hitter Ross Gload hammered a solo home run just over the right-field wall off Twins closer Jon Rauch with two outs in the bottom of the 10th. Gload now has three pinch-hit homers this season and eight in his career.
Twins starter Kevin Slowey turned in the shortest outing of his career, allowing seven hits and seven earned runs, in 1 2/3 innings on Saturday. Nick Blackburn was knocked around for six hits and eight earned runs in 1 2/3 innings on Friday.
The result was a 9-4 loss to the Phillies before a sellout crowd at Citizens Bank Park.
The Twins (38-30) struck for three runs in the first off Cole Hamels, highlighted by a two-run single to left by Justin Morneau.
Philadelphia got three runs back in the bottom of the first.
Chase Utley ripped a two-run triple down the right-field line and Jayson Werth later hit a strange sacrifice fly. The ball was caught by Orlando Hudson in foul territory, but Utley raced home and barely slid under the tag of Joe Mauer.
Slowey gave up a solo home run, just inside the left-field foul pole, to light-hitting Wilson Valdez to lead off the second. It was just the second homer of Valdez's career, and his first since Sept. 26, 2004 -- his rookie season with the Chicago White Sox.
Ryan Howard added a two-run blast in the second off Slowey.
Slowey was lifted for right-hander Jeff Manship, who was just recalled from Triple-A Rochester. Raul Ibanez greeted Manship with a solo homer to right to open the third, pushing the Phillies' lead to 8-3.
Manship was solid, though, tossing 4 1/3 innings and giving up just one run.
Morneau added a solo homer in the sixth, his 14th of the season.
The Phillies' high-powered offense, which had been struggling for the past month, was too much on this day.
Jayson Werth belted the fourth homer of the game, this one off Brian Duensing with two outs in the seventh. " Twins 13, Phillies 10
Minnesota at Philadelphia
linescore 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 R H E
(39-29) 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 5 1 3 13 15 0
(35-31) 3 4 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 10 14 1
"..NEW YORK -- Carl Pavano's performance in Saturday's 6-0 win over the Mets wasn't just impressive, it included some rare accomplishments, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
With his shutout of the Mets, Pavano became the first Major Leaguer in more than 20 years to earn consecutive complete-game victories on the road over past Cy Young Award winners. The right-hander defeated the Phillies' Roy Halladay last Sunday and then the Mets' Johan Santana on Saturday. The last pitcher to accomplish the feat was Houston's Jim Deshaies in 1989.
Pavano's two-hit day against the Mets was also historic in that he became the first American League pitcher in the DH era to throw a shutout and get at least two hits in the same game. The last AL pitcher to do that was the Angels' Clyde Wright on Sept. 14, 1972, against the Rangers....
" MINNEAPOLIS -- One night after ceding first place in the American League Central to the Tigers, the Twins took the division lead right back.
Denard Span hit three triples and drove in five runs for the Twins, while Nick Blackburn pitched seven solid innings to deliver an 11-4 victory over the Tigers at Target Field on Tuesday night.
Span became the first Major Leaguer to hit three triples in a game since the Braves' Rafael Furcal on April 21, 2002, and he's only the second Twins player to accomplish the feat. The other was Ken Landreaux on July 3, 1980, vs. Texas.
The brigade of triples began in the first when Span led off with a triple to center, part of a two-run inning for Minnesota. Span scored again in the third after singling to center. And in the fourth and fifth innings he delivered two triples to deep right field -- the first scored two runs and the other was a bases-clearing triple to extend Minnesota's lead to 10-3.
Span finished the evening going 4-for-4 with a walk. He was greeted with a standing ovation in his final at-bat in the seventh inning as he tried to become the first big league player in the modern era to hit four triples. But Enrique Gonzalez walked Span on five pitches to thwart the attempt.
Blackburn entered Tuesday's contest in the midst of a slump. He had gone 0-4 with a 12.05 ERA in his last five starts with all four losses coming on the road. But the right-hander got things turned around on this night back at Target Field, giving up four runs on seven hits over seven innings.
Jim Thome blasted career home run No. 572 with a solo shot to left-center field to lead off the seventh inning and cap off the scoring for Minnesota. Thome is now one home run shy of tying legendary Twins slugger, Harmon Killebrew, for 10th on the all-time career home run list."
" MINNEAPOLIS -- The name of the game was home runs in the Twins' 8-6 loss to the Rays on Saturday afternoon.
A grand slam by Matt Joyce off of reliever Matt Guerrier in the eighth capped off a seven-run inning and gave the Rays their first lead of the game. Center fielder Denard Span had a chance to catch the 408-foot blast, but the ball brushed the tip of his glove, and fell over the wall to lay with the pine trees.
The Twins hit three home runs in as many innings -- the most they have hit at home this season -- to give them a coveted 4-1 lead that would last until the bullpen took over for Francisco Liriano in the eighth.
The Twins' efforts were started by designated hitter Jim Thome. His line drive-drive home run to left in the second marked the first hit of his historic day and put the Twins on the board. The home run was the 573rd of his career, tying him with Harmon Killebrew for 10th on the all-time list.
Justin Morneau followed suit in the third inning when he hit a two-run shot to right-center field to give the Twins a 3-1 lead.
However, the power surge didn't stop there. Thome came up again in the fourth and hit a first-pitch blast to left-center field to pass Killebrew in the standings, giving him sole-possession of 10th-place. Saturday's game marked the 45th time in his career where he hit two homers, the last coming on Aug. 5, 2009.
Liriano put up a strong performance to give the Twins a chance to win. He had 10 strikeouts and gave up only one run on four hits through the seven innings he pitched. "
"KANSAS CITY -- Danny Valencia can't explain it.
The 25-year-old third baseman doesn't know why he's been virtually impossible to get out in Kansas City. On the series, Valencia is 8-for-9 with seven RBIs. With his second consecutive four-hit attack Tuesday night, Valencia became the first rookie in Twins history to have back-to-back four-hit games.
"This is rare," he said of his streak. "It's definitely rare. It's obviously great to have it, but it's something that will probably never come again. I've been fortunate, so I'm just really happy with the way things have been going."
Valencia was recalled on June 3 from Triple-A Rochester, where he hit .292 with 15 doubles and 24 RBIs in 47 games. In his last four games for the Twins, Valencia is 14-for-19 (.737) with eight RBIs. ...
"..The Twins have gone from zero to 60 pretty quickly here out of the All-Star break.
Or is it 55? As in, 55 wins following their second consecutive throttling of the Royals on Tuesday night, 11-2.
The offense as a whole is completely unconscious at the plate right now. The Twins pounded out 19 more hits on Tuesday, making them the first team since the 1933 New York Giants to collect 19 or more hits in three straight games (per Ed Price). Over those three games the Twins have scored 40 runs. They've also now scored 499 runs as a team -- the fifth-most in baseball.
Perhaps the most intriguing storyline from this week's offensive onslaught is the performance of Danny Valencia, who has quickly gone from thirdbaseman of the future to thirdbaseman of the present. With a 4-for-5 night on Tuesday, Valencia raised his batting line to a ridiculous .400/.449/.511, while becoming just the 10th player since 1993 to tally three or more hits in four consecutive games...
I've been a Twins fan since the age of 10 in 87' when the they won their first Championship and meeting Mr. Puckett years later (school & Twins Fest). I started to collect baseball cards-Twins team set almost every year and varieties of Twins memorabilia ever since. I also love playing (baseball fields in the back yard when I grew up in St. Paul and hitting in the batting cages)! I wear a #34 (Kirby Puckett's) jersey for a local (Morris) softball team too! I even maintain a couple of Twins "fan" websites http://www.youtube.com/goodnewsminnesota and http://twinsbaseball.goodnewsminnesota.info!
I even won a baseball writing essay contest that was sponsored by then-"St. Paul Pioneer Press"-,which I won 2 pair of tickets to attend a game at the "old" Metrodome. I proudly show my "true" Twins colors (Red, White, and Blue) in almost everything I do: I have a Twins logo on the dashboard of my vehicle, I painted my house the same colors, and I have many Twins t-shirts!
" MINNEAPOLIS -- More than two dozen former Twins gathered at Target Field on Sunday afternoon to take part in the Twins Legends Game.
The three-inning game, part of the club's 50th Season Celebration weekend, provided a chance for fans in attendance to see some of their favorite former players back on the field as well as to get a few laughs.
From Bert Blyleven to Kent Hrbek to Jack Morris, many of the greats who have played in the 50 years since the Twins arrived in Minnesota in 1961 took part in the Legends Game. Two teams, "Minnie" and "Paul" in reference to the twins in the team's original logo, competed before Sunday's game against the Rangers. It was one of many festivities held by the Twins over the weekend.
Introductions took place down the first-base line before the game, which included some legends like Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew and Tony Oliva who donned uniforms and helped coach but did not play in the contest. Formers Twins managers Tom Kelly and Frank Quilici chatted with an umpiring crew made up of local television personalities at home plate. As the players took the field for the first time, an old-time version of "We're Gonna Win Twins" played over the loudspeakers.
Rangers manager and former Twin Ron Washington donned a Minnesota uniform for a couple hours and played in the game. He hit two singles to the delight of his players who gathered along the railing in the visiting dugout to watch and there were also plenty of laughs from that same group when Washington wasn't able to make a running catch in center field.
For Washington, the game was a great opportunity to have some fun with some of his former teammates.
"There are a lot of great guys out there, guys I mentored, that helped win two World Series here," Washington said. "I'm just out there having fun and taking my swings. But if they throw one over to me, I'm going to whack it."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire politely declined the chance to get back on the field and participate in the game.
"I've missed enough balls. I've made enough outs. That's why I became a coach and a manager," Gardenhire said with a laugh.
But Gardenhire did throw batting practice to a few of the former players, including Washington. And many current Twins players such as Jim Thome, Justin Morneau, and Joe Mauer were in the dugout to get a glimpse of the early part of the legends' game.
Hrbek entertained the crowd, playfully grabbing at his hamstring as he went out for introductions before high-stepping into home plate when he scored in the first and creating a big divot in foul territory along the first-base line while trying to make a sliding catch.
There were familiar faces on the mound with Brad Radke, Eddie Guardado, Rick Aguilera and Juan Berenguer among those who pitched in the contest. And Guardado even got up to swing the bat one time as well, joining the likes of other hitters in the game such as Paul Molitor, Dan Gladden and Gary Gaetti.
The 40-minute Legends Game was won by the Minnies, 5-1, but the outcome didn't really matter as the crowd gave a standing ovation when the players left the field at the conclusion. "
" MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins have found various ways to escape trouble this season, whether it has been overcoming injuries to key players or working their way out of tight jams.
But on Sunday afternoon, it was an umpire's ruling that helped the Twins preserve a 6-5 victory over the Rangers at Target Field, and they completed the three-game series sweep.
In an unusual finish, third-base umpire Alfonso Marquez ruled that Rangers third-base coach Dave Anderson had interfered with runner Michael Young, thus resulting in the final out of the game.
Bolstered by a strong start from Nick Blackburn and some timely hits against Rangers starter C.J. Wilson, the Twins were leading by four runs at the start of the ninth inning. Then things got, as manager Ron Gardenhire described it, "hairy."
Trailing, 6-2, Texas scored two runs in the ninth off Jon Rauch before loading the bases against closer Matt Capps. With the tying run at second, Vladimir Guerrero hit an RBI single up the middle that second baseman Orlando Hudson fielded behind the bag.
Young, who had been on second, went around third. Anderson was in front of him with one arm high as the "stop" sign and the other pointed at third base. He was frantically telling Young to get back to the base, because Hudson had thrown to third.
Young's dive back into third appeared to beat Matt Tolbert's tag, but Marquez pointed at Anderson and said he had touched Young, meaning that coach's interference took place, resulting in the game's final out.
The rule, 7:09 (h) of the Official Rules, states that the runner is out if: "In the judgment of the umpire, the base coach at third base, or first base, by touching or holding the runner, physically assists him in returning to or leaving third or first base."
"They made contact at third base. That's automatic," Gardenhire said, citing replays as evidence. "The umpire has to make a call. If there is contact, he's got to make a call. That's what he did. And they made contact. Unfortunate, yes. It probably didn't help him stop or get back, but contact is contact. And that's what Alfonso called."
When the call was made, Rangers manager Ron Washington -- who was hobbled by a hamstring pull he sustained during the Twins Legends Game earlier in the day -- headed out to argued, to no avail.
The Rangers believe that no contact had been made.
"[Marquez] said that Dave reached out and touched him," Washington said. "All you have to do is look at the replay. You certainly shouldn't have a game end like that, as long as we were out there and as hard as we fought to get back. To let that happen ...
"If he calls him out at third base, OK. But to use that as an excuse ..."
Crew chief Tim Tschida said that according to the rules, even if the contact is accidental, the runner is out.
"The ruling on the play is that a base coach either touching, physically assisting in any way, with the baserunner is not allowed and the runner is called out," said Tschida, who in his 30 years of umpiring had only seen the rule used twice, including Sunday's contest.
One thing that both the Twins and the umpires seemed to be clear about is that Young would have been safe at third had the interference call not been made. That would have put the tying run just 90 feet from home plate.
"I'm pretty sure he was safe when he slid back in," Tolbert said. "Orlando made a good play on that. But that was not why he called him out.
"[The ruling] came at a good time, you know? We needed it. We needed something right then."
That was the only out Capps recorded as he picked up his ninth save for the Twins, but it was enough to preserve the victory for Blackburn, who delivered yet another strong outing.
Since rejoining the rotation on Aug. 23 following a brief stint in the Minors, Blackburn has recorded three straight quality starts. He's posted a 2-1 record and 1.99 ERA in those outings, thanks in large part to rediscovering his sinker while at Triple-A Rochester.
Blackburn wasn't the only starter who delivered a big performance en route to capturing the sweep of Texas. Coming off a 13-inning loss to the Tigers on Thursday night in which Brian Duensing and Blackburn were used in relief, the pitching staff looked to be in shambles. But thanks to a strong outing by spot starter Matt Fox on Friday night, Carl Pavano's eight-inning gem on Saturday and Blackburn's performance in the finale, the Twins swept the Rangers at home for the second time this season.
"That's a very good baseball team, with a lot of weapons, and you have to pitch well," Gardenhire said. "[It was] unbelievable after the 13-inning game to come into this series really fighting with our whole pitching staff. To come and pitch like we did for three performances is pretty doggone good."
Offensively, the Twins did just enough on Sunday, tagging Wilson for six runs on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings. It was the second-most runs that Wilson had allowed in a start this season.
The Twins entered Sunday with a 3 1/2-game lead in the American League Central, and it remains that way after the White Sox picked up a 7-5 comeback victory over the Red Sox to complete their own three-game series sweep in Boston.
But though the Twins' sweep of Texas might not have come as cleanly as they would have liked, there is no question that the club is happy to walk away with this victory.
"Those guys can play ball over there," Blackburn said. "We'll take [victories] whenever we can. We've played well against those guys so far this year, and hopefully Kansas City comes in and we'll do the same thing." "
"MINNEAPOLIS -- Jim Thome has provided a huge lift to the Twins throughout his first season with the club. And with a chance to clinch the American League Central title on the line on Tuesday night, it was the veteran slugger that ignited the club once again.
Entering Tuesday with their magic number sitting at two, the Twins needed a victory and a White Sox loss to celebrate their sixth division title in the last nine seasons. And thanks to Thome kick starting all three of the team's scoring drives, the Twins secured the first step of the equation by capturing a 6-4 victory over the Indians.
The victory was manager Ron Gardenhire's 800th career win and reduced the Twins' magic number to one. The White Sox were still playing in Oakland at the finish of Minnesota's game. ...
TEAM W L % GB
y-Minnesota 92 60 .605 -
Chi White Sox 80 72 .526 12.0
Detroit 77 75 .507 15.0
Kansas City 63 89 .414 29.0
Cleveland 62 91 .405 30.5
Last 10: 8-2
*currently the Twins have the best record in the majors as of Friday, September 25th 2009 (@8am after Yankees lost against the 2nd place Rays last night..woo hoo!)
" MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins have made a habit this season of scoring in the first inning and the club once again found itself holding an early lead three-run lead against the Angels on Saturday.
The problem was that it was the only bright spot of the day for the Twins.
Twins starter Kevin Slowey gave his club's lead right back in the second inning -- a lead they would never retake in what was a lengthy contest with much pace -- but the bigger concern following the Twins' 9-3 loss to the Angels were the two pitchers that left the contest with injuries and were placed on the 15-day disabled list afterward.
Slowey exited the game after the third inning due to discomfort in his right triceps muscle. He had allowed four runs on seven hits over three innings but felt a twinge in the muscle on a pitch he threw to the last batter he faced.
In the sixth inning, left-handed reliever Ron Mahay left the game after facing just two batters when he injured his right shoulder while trying to field a grounder in the infield.
"Just not a good day for us," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Things had started out well when the Twins took a 3-0 lead in the first off Angels starter Trevor Bell before a sell-out crowd of 40,966 -- the largest crowd in Target Field's brief history. Michael Cuddyer drove in two runs with his two-out single and Delmon Young added another with an RBI single in an inning where the Twins drew three walks.
But in the second, Slowey found trouble and quickly as the Angels scored four runs in the inning. After having not allowed a hit to 29 consecutive batters dating back to his last start when he pitched seven no-hit innings against the A's, Slowey gave up six hits in a stretch of eight batters. That included a two-run homer by Peter Bourjos -- his first Major League home run -- and a solo shot by Bobby Abreu.
It was the start of a memorable day for Bourjos, the Angels' rookie center fielder. In addition to the home run, he hit a triple and tallied four RBIs as well as throwing out a runner at the plate.
"He showed it today," said former Twins player and current Angels right fielder Torii Hunter of his prize student. "We had a talk during batting practice. I told him to relax, just play, don't get caught up in mechanics.
"When I was young, I wanted to be perfect, to show I was coachable. I told him, `You're a freak of nature. Use your God-given ability and don't think about it too much. Your body will tell you when to pull, when to go to right field. Trust it.'"
Bourjos hit an RBI triple off reliever Jeff Manship in the fifth, nearly sprinting past teammate Mike Napoli who scored on the play, to extend the Angels' lead to 5-3. But the Twins appeared to have an opportunity in the bottom half of the inning to get themselves back in the contest.
Three straight singles by the Twins loaded the bases with only one out in the fifth. Young hit a fly ball to center field that looked like it would be a sacrifice fly. Jason Kubel tried to score from third on the play but home-plate umpire Jerry Layne ruled that catcher Jeff Mathis had successfully blocked the plate after receiving the short hop throw from Bourjos. Replays showed that Kubel may have gotten his foot on home plate before Mathis placed the tag on him.
Things got ugly in the sixth for Minnesota. With two outs in the inning and a runner on first, center fielder Denard Span dropped a fly ball hit by Hideki Matsui and the error allowed Matsui to reach third base while another run scored for the Angels. Right after that came the play on which Mahay was injured. Erick Aybar hit a ground ball into the infield and Mahay fell awkwardly while coming off the mound to field the ball. Aybar's infield single gave the Angels a 7-3 lead.
"It was just one of the days where the game went nowhere,' Gardenhire said. "We did the best we could getting through it with the bullpen. We missed a play out in center, just overran it or whatever. Little things like that will [hurt] you."
As for Slowey and Mahay, both pitchers will undergo MRIs on Monday to determine the extent of their injuries.
The Twins called up right-handers Nick Blackburn and Anthony Slama from Triple-A Rochester to take the open spots on the roster. Blackburn, who was sent down to Rochester after going 7-7 with a 6.66 ERA in 19 appearances (18 starts), will fill in Slowey's spot in the rotation. Slama will give them another arm in relief, although it leaves Glen Perkins as the club's lone left-handed reliever.
"Just more adversity," Cuddyer said. "Hopefully it doesn't last very long." "
Twins burn three starting pitchers in epic 10-9 loss to Tigers
by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com Updated: September 2nd, 2010 11:59pm "MINNEAPOLIS -- Wow.
In one of the wildest major league games of the season, Gerald Laird's 13th-inning solo home run off Nick Blackburn -- yes, Blackburn, who was scheduled to start Friday -- lifted the Detroit Tigers to a 10-9 win over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night.
For the Twins, the loss came with some extra baggage.
Starting pitcher Scott Baker, who suffered through a bout of elbow tendinitis in early July, left the game after two innings with pain in his right elbow.
Baker labored through two innings, giving up two earned runs on three hits and two walks. He threw 46 pitches before being replaced by Jeff Manship, who allowed just one earned run in four innings of emergency relief.
On top of that, the Twins -- who have yet to call up any pitchers from Class-AAA Rochester since rosters expanded on September 1 -- were forced to use Friday's scheduled starter Blackburn, who threw 19 pitches in one inning.
The Twins also used Jesse Crain for 41 pitches, as well as starter Brian Duensing, who tossed 33 pitches over two innings after throwing 103 pitches just 48 hours earlier.
In a game with several twists, turns, bobbles and drama, the bottom of the 11th inning provided the most glaring set of follies.
With the Twins trailing 9-8, Denard Span drew a leadoff walk against Detroit closer Jose Valverde. Alexi Casilla followed with a single to left. After Joe Mauer struck out, Michael Cuddyer hit what appeared to be a tailor-made double play ball to third baseman Brandon Inge, but Inge bobbled it, and threw late to second base.
Everybody was safe.
The next batter, Delmon Young, then hit a dribbler to Will Rhymes at second base -- again, a potential game-ending double play ball -- but the second baseman bobbled it and collided with shortstop Ramon Santiago. Rhymes wound up converting the force at second base, but Span scored from third to tie the game, 9-9.
The Twins appeared primed for victory twice in the late-innings.
In the top of the eighth inning, while nursing a 7-3 lead, Randy Flores and Matt Guerrier allowed back-to-back one-out homers to Jhonny Peralta and Ryan Raburn, cutting the lead to 7-5. Guerrier then gave up a single to Alex Avila, and after Ramon Santiago struck out swinging, Austin Jackson reached base safely when a low throw by shortstop J.J. Hardy skipped under the glove of first baseman Cuddyer.
The error allowed Avila to move to third base and Jackson to move to second base. Soon after, Will Rhymes drove both men home with a single up the middle, tying the game, 7-7.
A short while later, Casilla -- who earlier in the game played a role in two botched double plays, and a third one later on -- slapped a 2-0 fastball by Phil Coke up the middle to score Jason Repko from third base, putting the Twins up, 8-7.
The lead didn't last long. Jesse Crain -- pitching in place of closer Matt Capps, who was experiencing some soreness after throwing back-to-back days, according to manager Ron Gardenhire -- gave up an opposite-field, solo home run to Casper Wells, tying the game, 8-8.
Casper's blast was the first home run Crain has allowed since May 18.
After some back and forth action in the early innings, the Twins jumped out to that 7-3 lead with help from a botched double play by the Tigers in the bottom of the fifth inning.
With one out and runners on first and second, Delmon Young hit a tapper back to the mound. Starting pitcher Justin Verlander picked it up and fired to second baseman Rhymes, who had the ball glance off his glove and into center field. Mauer scored on the play, giving the Twins a 4-3 lead.
A double play would have ended the inning. Instead, Danny Valencia followed with a sacrifice fly, scoring Michael Cuddyer from third base, and two batters later Jason Repko added a single that scored Young, who tap-danced his way around a tag by catcher Avila to make the score 6-3.
The Twins added one more in the bottom of the seventh, courtesy of an RBI single by the red-hot Valencia.
All 15 hits for the Twins were singles.
Gardenhire was ejected in the top of the seventh inning by umpire Joe West for arguing a call at second base. Casilla dropped the baseball while trying to turn a double play on a throw from shortstop Hardy. Casilla appeared to drop the ball while throwing to first base, but West called the runner safe at second, saying Casilla dropped the throw from Hardy.
Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera left in the sixth inning with left biceps tendinitis.
Blackburn was set to face LHP Derek Holland (2-2, 4.76) on Friday night with the Texas Rangers coming to Target Field for a three-game series.
That plan has likely changed.