GameChat – Twins @ Indians, 6:05pm

I think you can probably guess what all the buzz is about for tonight’s game. Yes, Nishioka is back with the team and yes, he’s in the lineup batting 7th. I don’t dislike him – in fact, if he is able to do the job, then I will be ecstatic! I just have a hard time believing that will be his fate tonight given his numbers in AAA. From what I’m seeing in the fan community, I’m not alone in my trepidation.

Also reported today is that Gardy has said “it’s not a 3 day thing for Nishi”… I don’t know what that means Gardy! Of course, the people who supposedly know claim that it means when Plouffe comes back, it will be someone else going back down to Rochester. I just don’t know how anyone can say that before Nishi has fielded a single ball or had a single AB. Shall we let things play out a little bit and see what we have here folks? yeesh.

Dick Bremer actually had an interesting tweet today related to a different person in the lineup! Apparently the Red Sox, who are no doubt feeling a little stung even though they avoided the sweep, commented that they were glad that they didn’t have to face Scott Diamond. I’m kind of glad that we have him for the Indians since they are actually in the division. I’d like to see him do his thing and help us make up a little ground.. It’s a matter of a little pride at this point. And the Twins don’t seem ready to just give up and let the season end now. Good for them. Play hard, let us enjoy some baseball!

Minnesota

@

Cleveland
Span, CF Kipnis, 2B
Revere, RF Cabrera, A, SS
Mauer, DH Choo, RF
Willingham, LF Santana, C, 1B
Morneau, 1B Brantley, CF
Doumit, C Duncan, DH
Nishioka, 2B Lopez, Jo, 3B
Dozier, SS Marson, C
Carroll, 3B Carrera, LF
  Diamond, P   McAllister, P

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

E

Minnesota

0

10

0

2

0

1

0

1

0

14

14

3

Cleveland

1

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

3

8

1

Tonight’s game looked a little ugly in the first inning… started by McAllister mowing through our hitters in a 3 up, 3 down exercise that was over before you had time to blink.. and then Diamond got himself in a little bit of a pickle & Nishioka got his first error in the bottom half. BUT Scott pulled it together, we got out of the first only giving up one run and from there something else happened entirely!

The guys came out in the 2nd and found out how to get to McAllister in a BIG way. Long balls, singles, errors, bloops, it didn’t matter how they got the hit, they got someone across home plate – 10 times. In the process, Ben Revere increased his hitting streak to 20 games – a career high. And that set the stage for Scott Diamond to come back and nail down the Indians hitting for the next 6 innings. That earned him the honor of being the first Twins pitcher to hit 10 wins this season. More than that, it just continues to build the team & fan trust in his ability – especially against the Indians. Stellar efforts are obviously paying off for both of them. Since we’re in Cleveland, I thought it appropriate to award them both in true Major League fashion – Ben Revere gets a pair of shoes worn by Willie Mays Hayes and Scotty gets a ball singed by Ricky Vaughn!! Congrats boys!

However, when you have a win like this, it can be hard to get the chat population to settle on that one individual they thought MOST contributed to the win – our BOD. After much discussion, the winner was the one who hit 2 homeruns in tonight’s game – including his career #200. Yes, that person is Justin Morneau!

 
And because it really was a team victory with EVERYONE putting forth a good effort this game to bring home this win, we promise not to leave anyone behind in Cleveland… like we did with Danny in Boston.. or Delmon in Detroit.. No really, you all get a plane ticket home.

A Road Trip to Beloit

I drove up to Beloit over the weekend to catch a couple of baseball games between the Twins’ Class A affiliate, the Snappers, and the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. The Rattlers and Snappers finished first and second, respectively, in the first-half standings of the Midwest League’s Western Division, so I anticipated that they would play some decent baseball. They did.

If you want to read a lot about the games themselves, I’m going to refer you to the daily reports being posted by Seth Stohs over at Twins Daily. Seth and Travis Aune were in Beloit the past few days, as well, and I got to spend some time with them. I also met Jeremy Nygaard and his brother Jed on Saturday. I really enjoyed the opportunity to talk a little baseball with the group and appreciated their willingness to let an old man like me tag along with them for a day and a half.

For my part, I’m going to simply post a whole bunch of pictures I took and let it go at that. Except for this one thing… I’ve mentioned from time to time rumors that the Twins and my own local MWL team, the Cedar Rapids Kernels, might consider entering in to a Player Development Contract starting next year. That’s all they are, at this point, just rumors. Neither party is allowed to discuss the possibility or make any comment on the topic until September. As I think I’ve also posted before, I think the odds are about 50-50. I’m aware that some others think the odds are a bit greater.

Of course, in Beloit there is some concern. They don’t want to lose the Twins. I don’t blame them. They were abandoned by the Brewers a few years ago and nobody likes being told, “we don’t want to be your MLB affiliate anymore.”

The Beloit staff don’t deserve to go through that. They are hard working people who put on a good show at Pohlman Field. The word you hear is that they don’t draw well in Beloit. I suppose that may be true, but I saw a good crowd on Saturday night and an even much better crowd on Sunday. Fireworks Saturday night and a Prince Fielder “BobbleArm” promotion Sunday probably helped, but all minor league teams rely on promotions to draw crowds. It was fun to see the hard work of the Snapper staff rewarded by appreciative crowds.

The problem is the stadium, not the Snappers operation or the fans themselves. Pohlman Field is beyond outdated. I’ve heard it said that it’s the “worst” facility among the 16 teams in the MWL. I’ve only been to three of them, so I can’t speak to how accurate that is. I know it’s tough to come up with funds to build new ballparks or even remodel old ones to bring them up to acceptable standards. I don’t know if Beloit will ever solve that problem. I hope they do.

But professional baseball is a business. A dozen years ago, Cedar Rapids faced losing its team if it didn’t replace their old stadium. The same choice has faced a number of other MWL communities over the past 20 years. Some, like CR, built new ballparks. Some, like Davenport, remodeled old ones. Others determined that they simply could not raise the funds to do so and gave up their franchises to other communities that were able to provide appropriate facilities. I felt bad for some of those cities and I don’t wish to see that kind of thing happen to Beloit. Whether the Twins stay there or elect to move their affiliation elsewhere, I hope Beloit can find a way to survive and eventually thrive as a member of the league.

So here are the pictures. Several of them, actually. I was going to just post a few but then I decided there’s no reason to hold back. We don’t pay for blog space by the inch around here.

– JC

This building serves as both the entrance to the ballpark as well as home to the team’s administrative offices

Don’t tell the people lined up long before gates opened Sunday that the Snappers can’t draw a crowd

Here’s what the crowd was hoping for. The first 500 fans got Prince Fielder “Bobblearm” figures

The Sunday crowd at Pohlman Field

The concourse area inside the gate, but outside the stadium itself. Yes, it did rain hard on Saturday, but the staff got the field ready well before scheduled game time.

The players walk through the concourse behind the stands to get from their locker rooms to the dugouts, giving fans lots of opportunities for autographs

Young fans exchange high fives with Snappers players as they walk from their outfield pregame stretching to their dugout

Saturday’s starting pitcher Jason Wheeler gave up 2 runs in the first inning, then went on to strike out 10 hitters in eight innings of work.

Manager Nelson Prada and Hitting Coach Tommy Watkins

David Hurlbut went six innings Sunday, giving up just one run on two hits, while striking out five Rattlers

Drew Leachman had supporters from Alabama on hand Saturday night. Made my little drive seem pretty insignificant

Catcher Jairo Rodriguez had warm duty on Sunday afternoon

1B Kennys Vargas’ solo HR accounted for the only Snapper run on Saturday night.

Eddie Rosario seems to be more comfortable at 2B than when I saw him in CR early in the season.

Sunday, it was Miguel Sano’s turn to “go yard”