John Shipley / St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS -- Leave it to Joe Mauer to piggyback a Gillette Children’s Healthcare event on his jersey retirement. What started 16 years ago as a pizza party at the Davanni’s at Summit and Cleveland was an all-star field day at Target Field on Friday, largely because many of his former teammates were planning to be here Saturday to see the Twins retire that No. 7 jersey. It was a long way from the pizza party he hosted for Gillette families at the Davanni’s so many years ago, although the spirit remains the same.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins sent 11 batters to the plate in a six-run sixth inning to break open a tie game and went on the beat the Seattle Mariners 10-5 on Thursday in the rubber match of a three-game series. Nelson Cruz went 3 for 5 with a home run and three RBIs, and Michael Pineda gave up one run on two hits and two walks in 5.2 innings for Minnesota, which has lost only one series at home this season, 3-1, to Toronto on April 15-18.
MINNEAPOLIS -- An already bad year for Byron Buxton ended with the Minnesota Twins center fielder spitting mad when management declined to call him up from Triple-A Rochester last September. In the minors rehabbing from a series of injuries, he was still upset more than three months later. “I have no idea what they want now. I stayed in Triple-A for four months,” Buxton said after a holiday charity event at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in December. “What do you expect? What can you want?”
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins’ bullpen has been adequate this season, helping Minnesota take a 44-22 record into Thursday’s series finale against the Seattle Mariners at Target Field. But adequate is different from good, and it’s trending downward. The bullpen was given two ties late on Wednesday and blew them both in a 9-6 loss to the Mariners. Three late errors were a factor, but so were hits and walks.
MINNEAPOLIS -- If it appears to you that Rocco Baldelli is auditioning relievers for the closer’s role, well, you aren’t crazy. Five pitchers have at least one save this season, and the role is still alternating at mid-June. Still, the Minnesota Twins manager said, that isn’t the case. “This is not a multi-month audition for late innings in our bullpen,” Baldelli said Wednesday, June 12, before the Twins played host to Seattle. “This is what we think works best for our group.”
MINNEAPOLIS — After a surprisingly dominant start, the Twins have settled into simply being one of the best three or four teams in baseball. This is where it really gets fun, high summer with a team headed for the playoffs. The Twins start a nine-game homestand on Tuesday, June 11, against the Seattle Mariners with the American League Central in their back pocket and a handful of players trending high in All-Star Game balloting.
The Big Ten will one day erect some sort of monument in honor of Jim Delany; statue, building or obelisk, it will have been earned by the man who took control of a college athletics conference and turned it into a media empire with tendrils stretching from Nebraska to the Jersey Shore. In 30 years as its commissioner, Delany changed the Big Ten Conference so fundamentally and irrevocably that it’s difficult to imagine there is anywhere Kevin Warren can take it.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins designated hitter/first baseman Nelson Cruz is trying to be patient with his injured left wrist, which has kept him off the field since being removed from a 5-3 loss to Detroit on May 12. Eligible to come off the injured list on Friday, he missed his 12th straight game when the Twins were host to the Chicago White Sox on Saturday. “Definitely you don’t want to be on the IL,” Cruz said before the game, “but it is what it is, and it feels like they don’t need me right now the way we’re hitting.”
MINNEAPOLIS -- C.J. Cron and Ehire Adrianza each drove in four runs, and Kyle Gibson scattered five hits over seven innings as the Twins beat the Chicago White Sox, 8-1, at Target Field on Saturday for their fifth consecutive win. The crowd of 39,139 was a sellout, the Twins’ first since Opening Day. Winners of 10 of their past 11 games, the Twins have baseball’s best record (35-16), a major league-leading 102 home runs and, pending the Cleveland Indians’ rain-delayed game against Tampa Bay, an 8 1/2-game lead in the American League Central.
MINNEAPOLIS — When a sports team introduces new leadership, one listens with an appropriate skepticism; in 99 percent of these cases, the team in question has just had a losing season — in most cases, in fact, several.