GameChat – Padres @ Twins, 7:10

The Twins start a stretch of interleague games tonight when they open a three-game home series with the San Diego Padres.

A couple of Twins alumni are making their returns as members of the visiting Padres. Former Twins SS Jason Bartlett is in the line up for SD and relief pitcher Pat “Sideshow” Neshek makes his first return to his home town as a member of a visiting team. (Orlando Hudson is also a Padre, but currently is on their Disabled List).

But the big “return” tonight is the guy batting third for the Twins. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Joe Mauer lives! In fact, he not only lives, but he’s apparently up for playing a little baseball. There’s been some questions floating around about what sort of reception fans will give Joe when he’s announced tonight and I think that’s a no-brainer… he’ll get a very enthusiastic “welcome back” from the crowd. If it’s anything less, I’ll be very surprised… and disappointed.

Mauer doesn’t deserve a free pass from fans and media and questions about why he’s missed so much time for “leg weakness” are fair, but tonight, the bottom line is that a guy who’s played an awful lot of very good baseball for the Twins is back in the line up. Welcome him back and hope he can help keep the W’s coming!

Let’s not forget that Glen Perkins returns to the Twins’ bullpen tonight, as well. Let’s hope he picks up right where he left off, as he was one of the few effective bullpen arms before his DL stint.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka is at SS again, but with Joe’s return, Nishioka has dropped to 7th in the batting order… which is about right, for now. Let’s see him get his timing down there toward the bottom of the order before we expect him to contribute from a more critical spot in the order.

I’m not sure I’ll be around for much, if any of the GameChat tonight, but for those who are, let’s hope Brian Duensing gets back on track… enjoy the game!

Denorfia, RF Revere, CF
Bartlett, SS Casilla, A, 2B
Headley, 3B Mauer, C
Ludwick, DH Cuddyer, 1B
Maybin, CF Young, D, LF
Guzman, J, LF Valencia, 3B
Rizzo, 1B Nishioka, SS
Hundley, C Hughes, L, DH
Gonzalez, Ab, 2B Repko, RF
Richard, P Duensing, P

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
San Diego 0 0 1 0 1 0 3 0 0 5 11 3
Minnesota 5 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 x 6 10 1

That ended up a little closer than it should have been!

It’s always nice to see our guys jump on the opposing pitcher for a bunch of runs early and that certainly happened tonight. Ben Revere gets kudos for a productive night at the plate and he got flat out robbed of a beautiful diving catch in the OF by a terrible call by the 2B umpire who ruled he trapped a ball that he totally caught.

Joe Mauer started his return with an RBI single and Danny Valencia got some BOD support for his line shot to the second deck for a home run.

But we want to encourage more pitching performances like this out of Brian Duensing and he certainly did his job tonight, giving up just 2 runs on 7 hits and 1 BB over 6 innings, while striking out 5 Padre hitters. So, for that, Brian Duensing is our BOD (but he’s sharing photo “face time” with Danny V)!

Brian Duensing (with Danny Valencia at 3B)