GameChat – Royals @ Twins #2, 7:10pm

Ok, maybe you avoid social media during the day (not a bad idea) and/or didn’t believe the Twins were likely to do anything before the trade deadline (smart cookie) so weren’t watching the clock with baited breath…

In which case, you missed that just after the deadline, the Twins announced that there was a deal after all! Drew Butera was sent to the Dodgers for a PTBNL or cash.

According to TR, Drew deserved a chance to get back to the big leagues – which meant that chance was NOT going to happen here (which we all pretty much knew anyway). Good for Drew to get himself  in a familiar role as catching depth on a team that is in a REAL hunt for the post-season. Like Dougie, or LNP, he may end up getting himself a World Series Ring in a matter of months! Speaking of LNP – LOTS of humor about getting him BACK as the PTBNL. After all, he already HAS a ring. ;)

Anyway, let’s see if the Twins can’t do a bit better job at home tonight than they did last night.

Kansas City

@

Minnesota
Gordon, A, LF Thomas, C, LF
Hosmer, 1B Carroll, 2B
Butler, B, DH Mauer, C
Perez, S, C Morneau, 1B
Lough, RF Doumit, DH
Tejada, M, 2B Plouffe, 3B
Moustakas, 3B Herrmann, C, RF
Escobar, A, SS Hicks, CF
Dyson, J, CF Florimon, SS
  Guthrie, P   Correia, P

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

E

Kansas City

0

1

1

0

0

0

2

0

0

4

13

1

Minnesota

0

0

0

0

1

1

0

1

0

3

11

1

Well you can’t really get a more prototypical Twins loss than that…

It was close most of the game actually and we threatened in both the 8th and 9th innings to do something that would turn the tables. But yeah, that didn’t happen.

Jonathan Murphy playing a big role in Cedar Rapids

A year ago, Jonathan Murphy was a 22-year old 19th round draft pick out of Jacksonville University just starting out his professional baseball career in the Minnesota Twins organization with the Twins’ complex-rookie level Gulf Coast League team in Fort Myers.

Today, Murphy is the primary leadoff hitter and centerfielder for the Cedar Rapids Kernels.

It’s not at all unusual for a second-year professional player drafted out of college to be spending time with the Kernels, but Murphy, the younger brother of New York Mets infielder Daniel Murphy, didn’t take the normal path to Cedar Rapids this season.

Jonathan Murphy

Jonathan Murphy

Murphy didn’t set the world on fire in his 52 games with the GCL Twins in 2012, hitting just .216 and reaching base at a .288 clip, so it’s probably safe to say that expectations for Murphy this season, based on last year’s results, were marginal, at best.

Murphy started 2013 at extended spring training in Fort Myers while awaiting news of which affiliate he would be sent to begin his season. The rookie league team in Elizabethton TN seemed logical or perhaps Class A Cedar Rapids would need an outfielder when Murphy was deemed ready to get his year started.

But neither place was where Murphy found himself assigned.

Instead, the Class high-A Fort Myers Miracle ran in to a bit of bad luck with injuries and Murphy was dispatched across the parking lot from the back fields where the GCL Twins play to Hammond Stadium, home of the Miracle.

“I was just in the right place at the right time. It had nothing to do with my own merit,” Murphy explained during an interview over the weekend. “It just had to do with (the Miracle) had a lot of injuries and I happened to be the oldest guy, I think, running around in (extended spring training) so they decided to ship me over there.”

Regardless of the circumstances, Murphy valued the experience.

“(Playing for the Miracle) was really a great opportunity for me. A great learning experience, too, just getting to go to a higher level like that and learn from some of those guys that have some experience and see what it’s like to be a professional, with this being my first (full) professional season.”

Murphy indicated he definitely noticed the higher level of competition he’d been thrown in to. “The game was moving pretty fast, but it was exciting. It was a challenge and an opportunity for me and I was appreciative of the organization for it.”

A few days after Twins top prospect Byron Buxton was promoted to Fort Myers, Murphy found himself assigned to the Kernels, essentially to replace Buxton in the Cedar Rapids outfield and, eventually, at the top of the Kernels’ batting order, as well.

Was Murphy worried about replacing perhaps the top rated minor leaguer in America?

“I was worried about him replacing me in Fort Myers,” Murphy responded, laughing.

“No, Byron’s a great guy and an unbelievable player. He’s got more talent than I’ll ever imagine having. To try to compare myself to him wouldn’t be real fair. He’s a great player and I’m just going to try to play the best that I can.”

Murphy certainly doesn’t see himself competing with Buxton. “Byron’s a Major League baseball player and I don’t think there’s a lot of doubt about that. He’s going to play in the Major Leagues. So, if I were to get caught up in trying to compare myself to him constantly, it would drive me crazy.

“Basically, all I can do is show up every day and whoever is pitching that day, it’s my job to compete against him and do the best I can. If I can do that every day and compete and be successful, then maybe I’ll look up in a couple of years and find myself in the Major Leagues, too.”

Murphy knows there’s no guarantee in his line of work, though. “Maybe (it will turn out) I’m not quite good enough. But all I can do is come out here and compete every day and as far as I’m concerned the pressure is taken off me. I have a job to do every day and however good I am and how much talent I have will dictate where I go as long as I put the effort forth.”

While not competing with Buxton, Murphy has filled in well for the departed star. Through the past weekend, Murphy was hitting .311 in his 23 games for the Kernels and had put up a .398 on-base percentage, while showing good range in the outfield.

So, after spending a couple of weeks facing the Class high-A pitching, apparently Murphy is finding Midwest League pitchers relatively easy to hit off, right?

That question pulls a laugh from Murphy. “Not at all! You must not have come to many of the games! Oh, my goodness, no. There are still plenty of talented arms and talented pitchers. It’s been exciting, though, to have the opportunity to come here and get to play every day.”

Jonathan Murphy goes through pregame baserunning drills as Jorge Polanco and Niko Goodrum wait their turns

Jonathan Murphy goes through pregame baserunning drills as Jorge Polanco and Niko Goodrum wait their turns

Murphy’s got one advantage that most minor league ballplayers don’t: an older brother who has already made it to the big leagues. Daniel Murphy is in his fifth season with the Mets and the two brothers are close.

“We encourage one another,” Murphy said. “We send each other texts. He had a day game yesterday and he had a real good day. I think he had like three or four hits. I (texted), ‘I think you win today, I don’t think I’m going to be able to match that.’

“Sometimes whenever we’re both going well, we’ll try to encourage one another like, ‘hey, you got two today, I’ll try to join the party,’” Murphy added. “Then when we’re struggling, it’s nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of and he’s always there for me when I need him. It’s a great tool and resource to have for baseball and for life. He’s just been a good role model for me.”

Asked what he likes to do away from the ballpark, Murphy gave an answer quite different than most ballplayers do.

“I just got engaged, so that takes up a lot of my free time, in a good way. We’ve been doing some wedding planning.” Murphy and his fiancé chose October 12 for their wedding. “Right after the season. Hopefully, the Mets won’t be in the World Series. I think we’ll be OK there.”

Picking that date was a little dicey with a brother playing Major League Baseball, where mid-October is right in the middle of the postseason. The Mets, however, are having just about as much success this season as the Twins are, which is to say, not much success at all.

The timing was questioned by at least one member of Murphy’s family, however.

“My dad sent me a text, ‘What if the Mets are in the World Series?’ I said, ‘I think this year we’ll be OK dad.’” Murphy then smiled and almost mumbled, “I might catch some heat for that one.”

But Murphy is clearly looking forward to the event as the culmination of an exciting year. “My family will be there, we’re going to have a nice small wedding. I’m really looking forward to it and excited that God’s really blessing both of us and it’s been an exciting time in my life.

Jonathan Murphy

Jonathan Murphy

“Getting to come out (to the ballpark) and do something I love every day and now I’ve found a wife I’m going to get to spend the rest of my life with. So, I’ve really been blessed here in the last few months.”

Kernels players who have spent prior years playing at lower levels in the organization or at Beloit during the last season or two of the Twins affiliation with the Snappers have expressed their enthusiasm for the facilities and environment in Cedar Rapids.

Murphy, however, has a different perspective, having arrived in town after playing at the next level up in the organization. The Fort Myers Miracle, after all, play their home games at Hammond Stadium, the spring training home of the parent Twins.

That said, Murphy’s assessment of the environment in Cedar Rapids is much the same as those who’ve moved up the ladder to reach the Kernels.  “It’s unbelievable. Fort Myers was good and it was exciting, but as far as crowds go and the fans, they’re way better here. Just numbers-wise and they seem to care a lot more,” said Murphy.

“When I go around town and I run in to someone and I say, ‘I play for the Kernels,’ almost every single person has said, ‘Oh, yeah, I went to a game last week,’ or ‘I love going to the Kernels games every once in a while.’” Murphy indicated that was not necessarily the case in Fort Myers.

“It’s definitely more of a community here. It’s been enjoyable and the fans really care a lot. It makes it a lot of fun to play in front of them. They’re passionate.” – JC

 

GameChat – Royals @ Twins, 7:10 pm

While fans and media wait for trade news as the non-waiver trade deadline nears, the Twins themselves actually still have baseball games to play.

Tonight, it’s game 1 of their series with the Kansas City Royals.

The various Twin Cities media outlets have a number of stories up about Joe Mauer’s new twin daughters. They didn’t get to go home with their parents when mom was released from the hospital Saturday and, speaking from experience, that’s a bit of a tough thing to go through as a parent.

But Mauer is back in the line up behind the plate for the Twins tonight.

Those of you able to watch the game on TV, keep an eye out for the “dugout hugs” that indicate someone is saying his farewell to team mates after being informed he’s been traded. It’s that time of year. – JC

ROYALS

@

TWINS
Gordon, A, LF Thomas, C, LF
Hosmer, 1B Carroll, 2B
Butler, B, DH Mauer, C
Perez, S, C Morneau, 1B
Lough, RF Doumit, RF
Tejada, M, 2B Colabello, DH
Moustakas, 3B Plouffe, 3B
Escobar, A, SS Hicks, CF
Dyson, J, CF Florimon, SS
  _Santana, E, P   _Pelfrey, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Kansas City 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 1 2 7 12 0
Minnesota 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 5 0

Just pretty ugly.

GameChat – Twins @ Mariners #4, 3:10pm

So the Mariners 4-game series is surprisingly 2-1 Twins so far! Who would have guessed? The worst we can do leaving Seattle is a split series which I would have taken in a heart beat if you offered me the opportunity before we started. The chance to WIN a series against a team I consider a real challenge for both pitching and hitting is pleasantly exciting.

Let’s see what Gibson can do for us today – and yay, new kids!

(putting this up early so lineups aren’t done yet – I’ll hopefully come back and give them to you before the game starts!)

TWINS

@

MARINERS
Dozier, 2B Miller, B, SS
Herrmann, C, C Franklin, 2B
Morneau, DH Seager, 3B
Doumit, RF Morales, K, 1B
Colabello, 1B Ibanez, DH
Thomas, C, LF Saunders, M, LF
Plouffe, 3B Chavez, En, RF
Hicks, CF Ackley, CF
Florimon, SS Blanco, H, C
  _Gibson, P   _Ramirez, Er, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 2 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 4 9 1
Seattle 0 0 1 4 0 0 1 0 x 6 8 0

I guess we’ll just have to settle for splitting the four-game series with the Mariners. Gibson had one bad inning, it appears. Chris Colabello notched his second home run

Brian Dozier left the game early, so I guess we’ll have to find out what that’s all about. – JC

GameChat Twins at Mariners #3, 3:10 pm

The Twins stole a win from Felix Hernandez last night, and they should have a little easier sledding this evening against Harang, so maybe the boys will score a couple more runs.

And Chris Colabello was rewarded for his extra inning work with a start at DH tonight.

Go Twins!

Minnesota

@

Seattle
Dozier, 2B Miller, B, SS
Herrmann, C, RF Franklin, 2B
Morneau, 1B Ibanez, LF
Doumit, C Morales, K, DH
Colabello, DH Seager, 3B
Thomas, C, LF Smoak, 1B
Plouffe, 3B Chavez, En, RF
Hicks, CF Quintero, C
Bernier, SS Ackley, CF
   Deduno, P   Harang, P

A very strong performance from Samuel Deduno and a couple of solo home runs powered the Twins to victory.  A victory only seen by the lucky few to have a ticket to see the game at Safeco Field because the game was not broadcast.

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

For his seven innings of shut out ball Deduno is today’s BOD!

Sam Deduno (Photo: Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Sam Deduno (Photo: Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

“Twins Weekend” in Cedar Rapids

Celebrating the affiliation agreement with the Minnesota Twins has been pretty much an “all season long” thing for the Cedar Rapids Kernels and their fans, but this weekend was the official Twins Weekend event in Cedar Rapids.

Guests of honor have included all-time Twins great Tony Oliva, Twins organist Sue Nelson and mascot TC Bear. All three made appearances at the Kernels’ game with visiting Peoria on Friday night.

Oliva signed autographs for a long line of fans before the game, Nelson treated fans to her talents on an electric organ during the game and TC teamed with Kernels mascot Mr. Shucks to entertain fans throughout the game.

On Saturday morning, all three joined several Kernels players and coaches, along with over 100 fans, for a breakfast event benefiting the Cedar Rapids Convention & Visitors Bureau.

As a fan who grew up in Minnesota in the 1960s watching Oliva play ball for the Twins at Metropolitan Stadium, I have to say it was a really big deal to me to have an opportunity to interview Oliva along with other local media Friday evening during the Kernels game.

It was even a bigger deal to find myself alone with Oliva in the pressbox for several minutes a short while after the formal media intervew and having the opportunity to just watch a ballgame and talk about a number of the young Twins prospects with Oliva.

On Saturday morning, during his remarks at the breakfast and in a “Q & A” session, Oliva shared a number of observations and anecdotes with the crowd.

If you’re interested in reading some of Oliva’s comments to the media from Friday night, click here to read my story for Metro Sports Report, which include Oliva’s thoughts on the current Major Leaguers from his native Cuba. Cedar Rapids Gazette reporter Jeff Johnson also has a story focusing on Oliva’s comments concerning PED usage in baseball.

Here are a few photos I took from the weekend’s events.

OlivaAutograph

Tony Oliva patiently signed autographs for about an hour before the game

Twins organist Sue Nelson

Twins organist Sue Nelson

TC Bear entertained fans and posed for pictures

TC Bear entertained fans and posed for pictures

OlivaMedia

Tony Oliva met with local media on Friday during the Kernels game

Kernels pitcher and Twins prospect Brett Lee answers a question during the breakfast event Saturday morning

Kernels pitcher and Twins prospect Brett Lee answers a question during the breakfast event Saturday morning as Niko Goodrum, Adam Brett Walker, Kernels broadcaster Morgan Hawk, Tony Oliva, Jake Mauer and Tommy Watkins look on.

Tony Oliva speaking to fans at the Breakfast event Saturday

Tony Oliva speaking to fans at the Breakfast event Saturday

Kernels outfielder and Twins prospect Adam Brett Walker answers fan questions during Saturday's breakfast

Kernels outfielder and Twins prospect Adam Brett Walker answers fan questions during Saturday’s breakfast

From left to right: Mike Gonzales, Dallas Gallant, Morgan Hawk (standing), Niko Goodrum, Brett Lee, Adam Brett Walker, Tony Oliva, Jake Mauer and Tommy Watkins

From left to right: Mike Gonzales, Dallas Gallant, Morgan Hawk (standing), Niko Goodrum, Brett Lee, Adam Brett Walker, Tony Oliva, Jake Mauer and Tommy Watkins

GameChat – Twins @ Mariners #2, 9:10pm

I gotta admit that I don’t have a whole lot of faith in Scott Diamond these days, especially not when matched up against King Felix…

But it has to be better than Correia last night, right? *knock on wood* *spin three times* *spit*

Minnesota

@

Seattle
Dozier, 2B Bay, RF
Carroll, 3B Franklin, 2B
Morneau, 1B Ibanez, LF
Doumit, DH Morales, K, DH
Herrmann, C, RF Seager, 3B
Thomas, C, LF Smoak, 1B
Hicks, CF Ackley, CF
Butera, C Ryan, SS
Florimon, SS Blanco, H, C
  Diamond, P   Hernandez, F, P

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scott Diamond pitched into the 7th inning and gave up just a single run, but was left with a no decision thanks to a Twins offense that could only manage one run of support.  After the 13 inning game was over the Twins had walked 15 times (compared with just 2 walks), but they managed to score a couple in the top of the 13th to take their first game in three days.

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 3 8 1
Seattle 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 12 0

I didn’t see the end of the game, because of sleep and things like that, but it seemed like Scott Diamond and Chris Colabello (game winning RBI) were the BOD candidates.  Colabello needs something to get him started at the MLB level, and maybe winning the BOD will give him a bump.

Chris Colabello

Talk to Contact Episode 46: The Swingin’ Clete Meat Thomas Episode

Episode 46 of the Twins baseball podcast,  Talk To Contact (@TalkToContact), is now available for download via iTunes or by clicking here.

Clete Thomas, Oswaldo Arcia, Jeremy Guthrie

This week my brother returns for a long journey at sea with the US Coast Guard and Cody and I clap for him.  We talk about Clete Thomas, Drew Butera (known fondly to us as the Boat Anchor), and we drink way too many beers.

This might be the most enjoyable show I have ever recorded.

80 minutes of bafoonery.

 

You can follow Cody on Twitter (@NoDakTwinsFan) or read his writing at NoDakTwinsFan.  You can follow Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) or read his writing at  Puckett’s Pond.  And of course, you can find me on Twitter (@ERolfPleiss) and read my writing at Knuckleballs!

– ERolfPleiss

GameChat – Twins @ Mariners, 9:10pm

So I know JC is off on Kernel duty so apparently that leaves me the only one here to do this – my apologies for lateness and lack of comment as I’m sick as a dog and will be here if I can but probably not for long.. stupid west coast ball.

At any rate – this is a far more intimidating team to me than the Angels who I considered beatable after their appearance here in Minnesota. I’ll be happy with any win we can pull off in Safeco! Even with the fact that we have fences moved in for our hitters this year, the pitching in Seattle is a true challenge.

Go Twins!

Minnesota

@

Seattle
Dozier, 2B Miller, B, SS
Herrmann, C, C Franklin, 2B
Morneau, 1B Ibanez, LF
Doumit, RF Morales, K, DH
Plouffe, 3B Seager, 3B
Thomas, C, LF Smoak, 1B
Colabello, DH Saunders, M, RF
Hicks, CF Zunino, C
Florimon, SS Ackley, CF
  Correia, P   Iwakuma, P

I know the Twins ended up losing, because that’s what the box score says, but I didn’t see a single pitch.  Iwakuma, predictably, shut down the Twins.  Woe is me.

-ERolf

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