GameChat – Twins @ Rays #4, 12:40, FSN & am1500

Looking to avoid getting swept out of St. Petersburg, Gardy has apparently decided the trick is to have the strongest pinch hitting options on his bench and filled out the line up card accordingly. I suppose his options are somewhat limited, though, since reports are that the flu bug has now bitten Justin Morneau. Denard Span is apparently being rewarded for his big day at the plate yesterday with a day off today, as well.

In other news (the Pioneer-Press’ Kelsie Smith was a tweeting machine this morning), Joe Nathan met with Gardy and pitching coach Rick Anderson after last night’s meltdown and the triumvirate concluded that perhaps Joe should pitch in less critical situations while he finds the old magic. That leaves the closer spot to Matt Capps. While that’s who I thought should have had the job all along, he hasn’t exactly shut the Rays down the last couple of games, either.

Gardy also apparently hinted at more changes in the bullpen. Hard throwing righthander Jim Hoey is likely to be brought up. He has a 1-0 record in Rochester, with 8 Ks and only 1 walk in his 6 2/3 innings of work spread over four appearances. Gardy and Anderson told Hoey to work on an offspeed pitch when they sent him down near the end of spring training, in favor of keeping Jeff Manship. I don’t know whether Hoey has found an offspeed pitch or has just been blowing his 98 mph heat past AAA hitters, but it sounds like we’re about to find out.

I argued in favor of keeping Hoey out of spring training, in addition to giving Capps the closer job to start the season, so obviously Gardy is starting to realize he should just do what I say. If that trend continues, clearly the Twins should start turning things around very soon!

Of course, one way the Twins could choose to deal with the dilemma of who to have protect 1-2 run leads in the 9th inning would be to have bigger leads in the 9th. That would require hitting more and scoring more runs. Which brings us back around to today’s… interesting… lineup. Maybe this group will rack up a dozen runs or so. Stranger things have happened.

– JC

Tolbert, 2B Fuld, DH
Casilla, A, SS Damon, LF
Kubel, RF Upton, B, CF
Thome, DH Lopez, F, 3B
Young, D, LF Shoppach, C
Cuddyer, 1B Zobrist, RF
Valencia, 3B Rodriguez, S, 2B
Holm, C Johnson, D, 1B
Repko, CF Johnson, E, SS
Duensing, P Hellickson, P

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 0 1 3 0 0 0 0 4 9 0
Tampa Bay 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 8 1

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we in the business refer to as a “win”. It’s been a while, so it’s understandable if some folks don’t remember what those are.

The new pairing of Glen Perkins as the set up man for closer Matt Capps got the job done as they preserved the two run lead they were handed following another very nice performance by a Twins starting pitcher. Brian Duensing went seven strong innings. He struck out 5 and spaced out seven hits and a couple of walks. For that performance, Brian earns an assortment of baked goods (although, Brian, if someone hands you cookies, you might want to check them closely… some of those things have been getting dumped in ovens and on floors lately).

The Twins’ much-maligned outfield defense stepped up today, too. It should be interesting to watch for Web Gems tonight since Jason Repko had a terrific diving catch and Delmon Young contributed as well.

But on the strength of a couple of great plays deep in right field AND an opposite field home run, the GameChat crew awarded today’s Boyfriend of the Day award to Jason Kubel! Way to go KUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUBE (keep this up and you may get out of jamar’s doghouse by the All Star break!).

Jason Kubel