Results tagged ‘ Justin Morneau ’
Yankees fans were none too happy about the way left fielder Andruw Jones approached a hit by the Twins’ Alexi Casilla in the eighth inning Wednesday night. I cannot say as I blame them.
Casilla hit a hard liner inside third base. The ball caromed off the portion of the wall that angles out toward the foul line and headed directly at Jones. In addition, Casilla, a very fast runner, stumbled as he came out of the box and lost a couple of steps as he headed down the first base line. He had just rounded first and put on the burners toward second as his hit reached Jones.
But instead of charging the ball and trying to make a play on Casilla, Jones calmly fielded the ball and threw softly to third base, which drew boos from the Yankee Stadium crowd of 36,381. Conceding a double in that instance with two out could have been costly. Fortunately, Boone Logan prevented Casilla from scoring what would have been an important tack-on run for the Twins by retiring Denard Span on a grounder to shortstop.
Jones later heard mock cheers when he ran hard to catch Chris Parmelee’s drive to deep left for the final out of the Minnesota ninth.
Logan’s strong outing (2 innings, 1 hit, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts) was part of an ensemble effort by the bullpen that included effective work as well from Clay Rapada and Rafael Soriano. But the damage had already been done by the Twins against starter Hiroki Kuroda, who was battered for six runs and 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings. Minnesota’s 6-5 victory was their second in three days, the first time in 10 years that the Twins have won two regular-season games at Yankee Stadium.
Yankees relievers even managed to contain Twins slugger Justin Morneau, who had two home runs and a single off Kuroda. Morneau is clearly playing his home games in the wrong ballpark. He has seven home runs in 46 career at-bats at the current Yankee Stadium, two more homers than he has hit in 294 career at-bats at his home yard, three-year-old Target Field.
Derek Jeter brought some drama to the bottom of the ninth by climaxing a 10-pitch at-bat against Twins closer Matt Capps with his fourth home run that got the Yankees to 6-5. The Captain didn’t hit his fourth homer last year until July 25 in the Yankees’ 100th game (his 79th).
Mark Teixeira had the fans on their feet as well with a drive to right that was caught one step from the warning track leaving the Yankees a painful run shy.
For the second straight night, Yankees manager Joe Girardi had to make a late scratch to his lineup. Left fielder Brett Gardner, who made the defensive play of the game Tuesday night, had to be replaced from Wednesday night’s start due to a bruised right elbow, which he sustained on making a sliding, run-saving catch the night before in the third inning.
Andruw Jones took Gardner’s place in left field and batted seventh. Eric Chavez, getting his first start of the season at third base as Alex Rodriguez was given a day off, was moved from seventh to eighth in the order. Girardi said that there was no reason for A-Rod not playing other than to give him a blow after having started all 11 of the Yankees’ previous games.
Mark Teixeira, who had to be scratched from Tuesday night’s game because of the flu, was back in the lineup at first base Wednesday night and batting in his old No. 3 spot for the first time this season. Teixeira had batted fifth in all 10 of his games this year.
The Twins took a particularly aggressive approach against Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda and scored four runs off the Japanese righthander in the first inning. Kuroda threw 23 pitches total to eight batters, which is not an especially high total in terms of pitch per batter (2.88).
Clete Thomas, who made the third out on a strikeout, was the only Minnesota hitter that inning who saw more than three pitches. Denard Span singled on the second pitch, Jamey Carroll doubled on the second pitch, Joe Mauer doubled on the third pitch, and Justin Morneau homered on the first pitch after Josh Willingham had grounded out on the third pitch.
Eleven pitches into the game Kuroda was down, 4-0. It is a sound strategy considering Kuroda’s best pitch is a split-fingered fastball, an out of the strike zone offering best suited for a pitcher when he gets ahead in the count.
The Yankees got three of the runs back in the bottom of the first off Staten Island native Jason Marquis, 33, pitching for his seventh organization in 13 seasons. Thrust into the rotation because of the loss of Scott Baker for the season to Tommy John surgery, Marquis also faced eight hitters but threw 34 pitches, many of them well struck by the Yankees.
They finally got a run batted in out of the cleanup spot in the order when Robinson Cano doubled to left-center to score Derek Jeter, who had led off with a single and was pushed into scoring position when Curtis Granderson walked. After Teixeira flied out to deep center, Cano delivered for the first RBI in 42 at-bats this year for Yankees cleanup hitters.
Nick Swisher closed the deficit to one run with a two-run single to center. A single by Raul Ibanez and a walk to Jones loaded the bases for Chavez, who also hit the ball hard, maybe too much so, because second baseman Alexi Casilla was able to start an inning-ending double play.
Cano came up with another first of the year – his first home run – with one out in the third coming in his 48th at-bat of the season. With the Yanks heading for Boston in another couple of days, this is a nice time for the second baseman to heat up offensively.
Yankee Stadium is usually a horror house for the Twins. Over the past 10 seasons dating to 2002, including postseason play, the Yankees had beaten Minnesota at the Stadium 33 times in 40 games, including 23 of their past 27 games.
The Twins turned the tables on the Yankees Monday night, 7-3, with a balanced offensive attack and a strong outing from Carl Pavano, who earned his first career victory against the team for which he was a major flop as a free-agent acquisition years ago. Pavano was 0-1 in four career starts against the Yankees prior to this game and also lost to them twice in American League Division Series play in 2009 and 2010. Pavano’s best game against the Yankees was for the Marlins in Game 4 of the 2003 World Series, but despite nine solid innings was not involved in the decision of that game which the Miami club won in the 12th.
The Yankees signed Pavano after the 2004 season, but his three years were filled with injuries and disappointment as he managed a 9-8 record with a 5.00 ERA in 21 starts. He allowed the first three batters he faced Monday night to score but held the Yankees to three hits from the second through the seventh innings while his teammates made it a rough night for Yankees starter Freddy Garcia.
Every player in the Minnesota lineup had at least one hit. Seven different players scored a run, and seven different players drove in a run. Talk about contributions up and down a lineup!
The Yankees had little of that. Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson started the game by homering off Pavano, who gave up a third run on a single by Mark Teixeira. That wiped out the 2-0 lead the Twins had given Pavano in the top of the first. The Yankees put only one runner in scoring position after the first inning.
Garcia settled down nicely after the first inning before the wheels came off in the fifth. Freddy had retired 11 consecutive batters before Alexi Casilla doubled with one out in the fifth. Garcia came back to strike out Denard Span but gave up a single to Jamey Carroll and a double to Joe Mauer, who had three hits, and lost the lead.
“What we saw a lot from Freddy last year was how well he pitched with runners on base,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “But they strung together some hits off him with runners on.”
The Twins were 3-for-6 with runners in scoring position against Garcia and 4-for-10 for the game.
Justin Morneau, Mauer’s partner in the Twins’ M&M tandem, homered off Garcia leading off the sixth. Morneau was robbed of an extra base hit and another RBI in the seventh when Granderson caught up with his long drive in front of the 399-foot sign in left-center after a very lengthy run. The rest of the Yankees’ regulars waited for Grandy in front of the dugout to give him high-fives as he came off the field.
The Yankees are back at .500 at 5-5. They can’t seem to break away from the .500 syndrome. They lost the first three games of the season, then won four in a row, lost to go 4-4, won to go 5-4 and are now 5-5. CC Sabathia, who will start Tuesday night, has not lost to the Twins in his past nine starts against them, including postseason play, and is 8-0 with a 1.72 ERA in that span. The Yankees hope that streak will continue.
A.J. Burnett was none too happy about being yanked from Saturday night’s game in the second inning and seemed to express some displeasure in a remark to manager Joe Girardi while heading for the dugout. What gripe Burnett could have had about the skipper’s move would be lost on me. What A.J. should have said to Girardi was “Thanks.”
Burnett had just walked two batters to load the bases with two outs and was already behind 4-0. The righthander had managed to get only five outs (four actually because his catcher, Russell Martin, got one of them by throwing out a runner attempting to steal second base). Certainly Burnett wanted to get out of the jam he created, but with cleanup hitter Justin Morneau, a former American League Most Valuable Player, coming up, who could have blamed Girardi for making a pitching change?
Never mind that Luis Ayala didn’t help matters by walking Morneau to force in a run and allowing a single to Jason Kubel that chased home two more runs that put the Yankees in a 7-0 ditch. Nothing Burnett did in his 1 2/3 innings convinced Girardi that he could get the job done. Girardi even had to chase Burnett back to the dugout after he had gone down the runway to watch the rest of the inning. Burnett finally exited after the runners he left on base scored, which was a breach of baseball etiquette. Pitchers removed from the game are expected to stay in the dugout until the inning is completed.
It was just in Burnett’s previous start Monday night at Kansas City that Girardi coaxed the pitcher into his first August victory in three seasons by bringing in Boone Logan to get the final out of the sixth inning. Girardi was hoping that the 7-4 victory over the Royals had gotten Burnett over the hump. Getting scorched for seven earned runs, five hits, three walks and two wild pitches in his briefest outing since joining the Yankees just got Burnett back on a losing track.
In nine starts over the past two months, Burnett’s ERA is 7.21. He has given up 61 hits, including nine home runs, and thrown five wild pitches in 48 2/3 innings. His season ERA has gone from 4.05 to 4.96. Burnett has reason to be frustrated, but he shouldn’t be taking it out on his manager, who has been continually supportive of his continually struggling starter.
General manager Brian Cashman went even further before Burnett’s previous start by castigating the press for its criticism of Burnett and sticking his neck out with the claim that A.J.’s hefty contract is being held against him. He is in the third season of a five-year deal for $82.5 million. That’s a pretty tempting target on Burnett’s back, but the only way to shake off the critics is to pitch effectively, which the Yankees have waited patiently for him to do since 2009.
If Burnett was sore about the early gate Saturday night at Target Field where he received a sarcastic standing ovation, think of what the reaction from the crowd would have been had the game been at Yankee Stadium.
It was looking like another rocky outing for CC Sabathia, who had lost his previous two starts, before the umpires threw a flag on a titanic, two-run home run by Justin Morneau in the first inning. Seemingly rejuvenated by the reversed call after viewing a video replay, which is getting to be a habit in Yankees games, Sabathia worked his way through a serviceable if unspectacular seven innings against the Twins and got back on a winning cycle.
Thursday night’s 8-4 victory by the Yankees was due largely to an offensive outburst that has been characteristic of this trip. They dented cavernous Target Field with three home runs among their 15 hits. The Yankees have reached double figures in all four games on the trip. Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher each connected with a man on, and Andruw Jones followed Swish with a bomb into the last row of the second deck of the three-tiered yard 434 feet from the plate.
Everbody had a hand in this one. Curtis Granderson tripled and singled twice. Eduardo Nunez had two hits and two runs. Derek Jeter had two more hits and Robinson Cano one. Francisco Cervelli singled in two runs. Brett Gardner had a scoring fly ball.
The rest was up to Sabathia, who was far from overpowering as the Twins sliced him up a bit with 10 hits, but the damage was not overly bloodletting – four runs, one of which was not earned due to Nunez’s 16th error (ouch). CC walked only one batter and struck out nine and was very much deserving of a victory that improved his record to 17-7 with a 2.96 ERA. The big guy is back in the American League Cy Young Award hunt.
David Robertson and Corey Wade supplied a perfect inning of relief apiece to put a nice bow on their latest victory away from home. The Yankees are 35-23 on the road this season, including 8-3 in August.
Morneau’s foul was easily the hardest hit ball off Sabathia, who got stronger inning after inning until the seventh when the Twins strung together three straight hits before the Nunez error. Joe Mauer drove in the second run of the inning, but Sabathia stiffened and got Morneau on a fly ball and Jim Thome to hit into the overshift and ground out to Cano positioned in shallow right field.
Nunez’s days at third base may be numbered now that Alex Rodriguez is back. A-Rod rejoined the team but has yet to be activated as the Yankees want to make sure he can go full throttle. There has been talk about Rodriguez being used more as a designated hitter, but he said before the game that he would help the team more at third base, which I concur. Using the DH slot to give him half a day off once or twice a week is one thing, but the Yankees also need his defense at third base on a regular basis.
Other speculation about how the lineup should look once A-Rod returns has centered on whether Teixeria should be moved out of the 3-hole to be replaced by Granderson or Cano. Why? With A-Rod back, the symmetry of the order would return by having a right-handed hitter (Jeter), followed by a left-handed hitter (Granderson), a switch hitter (Teixeira), a righty (Rodriguez), a lefty (Cano) and a switch hitter (Swisher). I don’t think manager Joe Girardi will change anything, and I don’t think he should.
As Warner Wolf used to say, “Let’s go to the video tape,” – again!
Still stung by what happened Wednesday night at Kansas City, Yankees manager Joe Girardi bounced out of the dugout right away in the first inning Thursday night at Minneapolis to challenge a home run call. He asked the umpires to review the towering drive by Twins first baseman Justin Morneau that was initially ruled a two-run home run. From his view in the visitors’ dugout along third base, Girardi was certain the ball was foul.
And to Girardi’s possible surprise, the umpires backed him up, reversing the call and sending Morneau back to the plate. That brought Twins manager Ron Gardenhire out of his dugout to get in his two cents of protest that wound up getting him ejected. Girardi probably could emphasize with his opponent’s emotions.
So the Yankees skipper is batting .500 in questioning home run calls by umps on this trip. The reversal also took a home run allowed away from CC Sabathia, who was taken deep five times in his previous start. Those were all solo shots, by the Rays. Morneau’s homer that wasn’t came with Joe Mauer on first base. On defense, Mauer, an All-Star catcher, played right field for the first time in his career because of all the injuries Minnesota has.
So what happened to the American League Beast?
The division that has been touted as the toughest in the major leagues is the only one with a winless team, two of them in fact. The Red Sox and Rays both lost Thursday and are 0-6. It ought to be pretty interesting listening to the reaction of the fans in Fenway Park Friday when the team is announced individually before the home opener against the Yankees, who take to the road after a 4-2 homestand against the Tigers and Twins.
The Blue Jays also lost Thursday and are even with the Yankees at 4-2. The Orioles took a 4-1 record into a night game against Detroit. AL East teams are a combined 12-17 after the season’s first week.
Boston’s start is by far the most astonishing, considering that so many pre-season prognosticators had the Red Sox winning the World Series or at the least getting to it. They simply have not hit. Thursday was the first time the Red Sox were shut out (1-0), but they have scored 17 runs, less than three per game (2.83). They are batting .181 as a team and slugging .275! Man, do the Red Sox need to get back to Fenway in a hurry.
The Yankees didn’t even need home runs Thursday to beat Minnesota, 4-3. Another sound effort from A.J. Burnett (2-0 this year and 7-0 in April since joining the Yankees) set the pace. Rafael Soriano atoned for his blowup earlier in the week, and Mariano Rivera topped it off with a 1-2-3, 7-pitch ninth for his fourth save.
Instead of the long ball, the Yanks used some small ball for this victory, which was nice to see. Brett Gardner manufactured a run by himself without a hit in the third. After a leadoff walk, he stole second, crossed to third on an infield out by Derek Jeter and scored on a fly ball by Nick Swisher. (Jeter, by the way, had a double, a single and a walk in four plate appearances and passed Hall of Famer Rogers Horsnby on the career hit list with 2,931).
After the Twins went ahead, 2-1, in the fourth on doubles by Justin Morneau, Jim Thome and Jaason Kubel, the Yanks came right back in the bottom half with some more little ball. Andruw Jones doubled in a run and sent Robinson Cano to third. Russell Martin fought off a tough slider from Francisco Liriano and was able to hit a grounder to first that scored Cano on a contact play. A two-out single by Gardner made the score 4-2.
Burnett, who mixed in a changeup with an effective curve, was replaced in the seventh by Joba Chamberlain, who was pretty wild with numerous balls in the dirt. He hit Alexi Casilla with a pitch, then pretty much allowed him to get to third base. Castilla stole second largely because Martin could not throw to second until after he made a nice, short-hop stop of another pitch in the dirt by Chamberlain. In hurrying the throw, Martin threw wide of second and was charged with an unfortunate error as Casilla reached third. He scored on a grounder to the right side by Denard Span.
Thanks to Soriano and Rivera, the Yankees kept the Twins at bay. There was some ugliness in the bottom of the seventh, however, when Swisher upended Twins second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka attempting to break up a double play and succeeding. He also broke Nishioka’s leg. The rookie from Japan suffered a fractured fibula as the result of the play, which the Twins did not identify as dirty. Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire termed the play hard but fair and that he likes the way Swisher plays.
Swisher was so upset that after the game he sought out Nishioka and talked to him.
“I told him I was just trying to break up and double play and that I didn’t mean to hurt him,” Swisher said. “I mean, that’s the last thing you want to do, especially to a guy who has come all the way over here to try to make his mark. He told, ‘It wasn’t your fault; I didn’t get out of the way.’ That made me feel better. I was glad I was able to talk to him and hope he gets back soon.”
Swish was unaware of the diagnosis when he spoke. One thing I heard from scouts years ago when Kaz Matsui was playing second base for the Mets is that Japanese middle infielders are not as quick around the bag on double plays, that they tend to drag their way across the base and may be vulnerable to hard slides.
Someone then mentioned Boston’s record to Swisher. “I don’t care if they’re 0-and-6 or 6-and-0,” he said. “It’s still Yankees-Red Sox. We expect a tough series.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi got a thorough going over in print and on the airwaves for his handling of the eighth inning Tuesday night when the Yankees, who were coasting away with a 4-0 lead over the Twins behind CC Sabathia, gave it all back and eventually lost, 5-4, in the 10th.
This was totally unwarranted, in my view. I honestly believe Girardi was in damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation once he decided to make the move that I believe was the only mistake he made, and that was to take Sabathia out of the game at that point.
I realize that is the way the game is played these days. Sabathia had thrown more than 100 pitches, the familiar target figure for starters, and we are still in the first week of the season. To me, though, how a pitcher gets to the 100 mark should be part of the equation. Sabathia was not faced with a taxing situation after giving up a pair of one-out singles in the second inning. The lefthander moved down 17 batters in a row with monotonous efficiency.
Why not at least let him start the eighth? That way, there’s a good chance that Justin Morneau and Jim Thome, the left-handed sluggers who were not in the starting lineup and available as pinch hitters, never leave the dugout that inning.
The critics who thought Girardi erred by bringing in Rafael Soriano in the eighth make no sense to me. That is what he is being paid – and a clip of almost $12 million per year – to do. That is his inning. The Yankees told the former Rays closer to treat the eighth the way he used to treat the ninth.
The thought that David Robertson should have preceded Soriano is a classic second guess. Don’t you think that if Robertson had let a couple of runners on, fans would have wondered why the manager didn’t bring Soriano into the game in the first place? If Girardi was going to remove Sabathia, Soriano was the logical choice. After all, it was only a four-run game in a park where balls have been flying into the seats all week and against a lineup that may be slumping early on but has enormous production potential.
Soriano was a no-show at his locker after the game. He could take some lessons from Mariano Rivera about how to behave when things do not go well. At least the newcomer apologized to the press before Wednesday night’s game and vowed never to do that again. Soriano said he didn’t even pick up the phone late Tuesday night when his mother called to see how he was feeling. He did the right thing Wednesday by apologizing to her first.
Girardi, on the other hand, doesn’t need to apologize to anyone, except maybe CC Sabathia.
It is not that much of a stretch to say that Ivan Nova might be the starting pitcher other than CC Sabathia that the Yankees have the least to worry about. Oh, sure, it’s early, plenty early, but the righthander who still qualifies as a rookie continued his impressive work in spring training with a strong first outing Monday night in the Yankees’ 4-3 victory over to the Twins, who have lost 26 of their last 30 regular-season games at Yankee Stadium.
Two-run home runs by Alex Rodriguez in the first inning and Jorge Posada in the second gave Nova a 4-0 lead to work with, and while it got a bit hairy at times Nova pitched out of trouble when he needed to and left after six innings with the lead intact, albeit sliced down to one run.
Nova did not allow a hit until Justin Morneau’s two-out double in the third inning. The Twins entered the game with merely a .198 team batting average, which is hard to believe for a team with their quality offense. Coming to Yankee Stadium didn’t help.
Perhaps noting all the home runs (15) at the Stadium during the Yanks-Tigers series, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire inserted veteran slugger Jim Thome (589 career home runs) into his lineup at designated hitter. Thome didn’t leave the yard, but his double to right-center after an infield hit by Demon Young halved the Yanks’ lead. Thome hit a 3-2 changeup for the double, a gutty pitch for a rookie to throw in that spot, but it left a thought in Thome’s mind when he faced the kid again in the sixth.
Jason Kubel put up resistance coming back from 1-2 in the count to work it full, but Nova won the 10-pitch duel as Kubel grounded out weakly to second. The same fate befell Joe Mauer as he beat a curve ball into the ground in the fifth after a one-out double by Alexi Castilla and a two-out double by Tsuyoshi Nishioka had cut the Yanks’ lead to 4-3.
That Nova faced Mauer at all was a sign of the confidence the pitcher has earned from manager Joe Girardi, who might have taken him out in that situation last year. Indeed, Girardi had lefty Boone Logan warming in the pen but stayed with Nova.
“These are the things he has to do for us,” Girardi said. “It’s all part of learning how to pitch at this level and in those situations. It shows that he has matured.”
Thome was Nova’s last batter in the sixth with two out and the bases empty. Again, the count went to 3-2. Hmm, thought Thome, changeup last time. He had to be thinking about it. Nova came in with a fastball and struck him out. The bullpen trio of Joba Chamberlain, Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera handled matters from there, as they did for Sabathia in the season opener.
As for Nova’s expectations, they are simple. “Win, win, and win,” he said. “Win every time.”
You’ve got to love the attitude.
Regular readers will be familiar with my fondness for Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, although the welcome mat I place for him at Yankee Stadium over the years hasn’t been matched by the Yankees. The Stadiums old and new have been horror houses to the affable skipper whom I have known since I covered him on the Mets in the early 1980s.
One of my responsibilities as secretary-treasurer of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America is to contact the winners of the annual awards as well as those elected to the Hall of Fame, and it was an absolute pleasure to break the news to Gardy last November that he had finally won the American League Manager of the Year Award after having finished second five times. I asked him where he had put the trophy.
“I haven’t seen it yet,” Gardenhire said. “I’ll get my first look when we go back home after this series.”
Truth be told, the Manager of the Year trophies are not given out at the New York Baseball Writers Dinner with the other awards, Most Valuable Player, Cy Young and Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year. Yes, the official presentations are made there, and the managers speak from the dais, but a token gift is handed to them. The shape of the trophy, which is impressive, is such that for some reason it does not travel well, so the BBWAA likes to send the trophy to what will be its final destination. In Gardenhire’s case, it was sent to Target Field in Minneapolis.
Trophies shipped to both Joe Torre when he won for the first time with the Yankees in 1996 and Joe Girardi when he won the National League award with the Marlins in 2006 cracked during transport, and each had to be replaced. Gardenire might have expected a damaged trophy if the writers have given it to him at Yankee Stadium.
Gardy’s record here is nothing short of horrible – 4-25 during the regular season and 2-5 in the AL Division Series. Awards voting is done prior to the start of post-season play, so the Yanks’ sweep of the Twins was not a road block for Gardenhire.
Writers took into account that Gardenhire did not have one of his former MVP players, first baseman Justin Morneau, for the second half of the season. Morneau suffered a concussion July 7 at Toronto and was sidelined for the remainder of the season. Morneau’s situation still bears monitoring, and Gardenhire applauds Major League Baseball for establishing a new disabled list rule regarding players with concussions.
A player sustaining a concussion may not be placed on a seven-day DL, which would allow a team to replace him without putting the onus for the injured play to suck up what has proved a serious condition so as not to let down his teammates. If the player needs to remain on the DL for the full 15 days, the period can begin retroactively.
“It’s an important step for baseball,” Gardy said. “We didn’t know much about concussions in the old days. I was knocked out twice in my career and played the next day. In one case, I kept on playing in the game that I was knocked out.”
Gardenhire recalled that while playing shortstop for the Tidewater Tides, then the Mets’ Triple A affiliate, against the Columbus Clippers, then the Yankees’ top farm, he was struck in the head with a pitch and lost consciousness.
“When I came to,” he said, “they asked me if I wanted to keep playing. ‘Sure,’ I said. No one wants to come out of the lineup. So I kept on playing. Of course, I don’t remember anything about the rest of the game. A rule like this goes a long way to understanding this condition.”
Also in Minnesota’s traveling party is the newest Hall of Famer, Bert Blyleven, the 287-game winner as a pitcher and the long-time television analyst for the Twins. Bert told me he is enjoying his “Blyleven in ‘11” year and brings good news about another Twins Hall of Famer.
Harmon Killebrew, the former slugger who is undergoing treatment for esophageal cancer, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Target Field Friday for the Twins’ home opener against Oakland.
The New York Chapter of the BBWAA honored Killebrew with its Casey Stengel “You Can Look It Up” Award in recognition of his outstanding 1961 season that was overshadowed by the Roger Maris-Mickey Mantle chase of Babe Ruth’s home run record. He was unable to attend the dinner, and Gardenhire accepted in his place. The writers have an open invitation for Killebrew to attend the dinner next January, and we’re rooting for him to be able to make it.