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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


MLB Roundup

For young Twins, another loss and a teachable moment

MINNEAPOLIS — On Sunday morning, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was asked if Saturday’s 9-4 victory over the Yankees was particularly satisfying because of all the inexperienced players in his lineup.

“Well,” Gardenhire said, “let’s see how we do today.”

Gardenhire and his staff are never quite sure what they’re going to get, especially from the likes of Ben Revere, Trevor Plouffe, Danny Valencia, Rene Tosoni and Luke Hughes. Sunday’s 3-0 loss to the Yankees re-emphasized the point. New York gave the Twins chances to split the series, but Minnesota couldn’t capitalize and fell to 20-62 against the Yankees under Gardenhire, counting the postseason.

Gardenhire described his coaching staff’s frustration in trying to get the inexperienced players to focus at all times — offensively and defensively — pay attention to scouting reports and anticipate what to do in every situation. Gardenhire specifically referenced Plouffe misreading Joe Mauer’s first-inning double off the right-field wall Saturday, advancing only from second to third. The manager noted that Mauer and Danny Valencia recently made the same baserunning mistake. “They don’t pay attention,” Gardenhire said.

“Maybe we have to be more forceful in the minor leagues about that stuff.”

Giants beat Astros in 11 innings

HOUSTON — It was tough to spot the contender over the weekend at Minute Maid Park, which doesn’t speak well for the Giants. Their opponent was on pace for a 108-loss season. But there is no mistaking Pablo Sandoval’s All-Star swing.

A beaten down Kung Fu Panda delivered when nobody else could, lifting a two-run home run to center field in the 11th inning that sent the Giants to a 6-4 victory over the Houston Astros on Sunday afternoon. Although his right shoulder remained too sore to swing right-handed, the switch-hitting Sandoval mustered up the difference maker off right-hander Mark Melancon, and local boy Brandon Belt popped a three-run homer as part of a career-best, four-hit afternoon.

The Giants used six pitchers and every last muscle fiber to avoid being swept in three games by the team with baseball’s worst record

Most vitally, the victory allowed the Giants to inch within 1.5 games of the N.L. West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks, who lost their fifth consecutive game.

For all their whirlwind of injuries on a dripping, disappointing, challenging and grueling 4-6 road trip, it wasn’t a widow maker. The Giants return home trailing Arizona by just a half-game more than when they left the cooler climes of AT&T Park.

Torture? Sure. But there’s a different one-word motto this season: Survival.

“The best way I can put it is, we survived,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. “It wasn’t great by any means. To win the last one, we survived it. We’re not too far back, for which we’re fortunate. We know it. “That’s one of the hardest fought wins I think I’ve ever been involved in.”

Floyd gets plenty of support as White Sox blank Rangers

CHICAGO — The White Sox talk about how winning series should be enough to catch the Tigers in the American League Central. But with Sunday’s 10-0 ripping of the Rangers, they have won two of their last three series and lost a game to the Tigers.

Running uphill is not easy, as the Sox are finding out while they ponder five games in Anaheim and Seattle after a day off Monday, still five games out of first place.

“It was nice to be able to win a series against (the Rangers), and then we’ll continue to do what we’ve been doing all year on the road,” Brent Lillibridge said.

The Sox are the only AL team with a losing record at home (29-36) and winning record on the road (34-27). Sunday’s victory gave them their first winning homestand (5-4) since June 3-12. Alex Rios hit a home run, his first at U.S. Cellular Field since May 21, and actually got cheers from the announced crowd of 25,033.

Gordon Beckham stroked a pair of singles, the first one breaking an 0-for-14 slump, and little big man Lillibridge cracked his 11th homer, putting the Sox ahead 2-0 in the third inning.

Alejandro De Aza continued his hot hitting since his promotion from Triple-A Charlotte with three RBIs, and Gavin Floyd held the potent Texas offense to three hits in seven-plus innings to improve to 5-1 in seven starts since the All-Star break.

McKeon jabs Marlins after 1-5 road trip, 15th loss in 17 games

SAN DIEGO — It’s a good thing for the Florida Marlins that Mike Stanton keeps hitting home runs. Otherwise, as many have observed on Twitter, they would be unwatchable. Stanton grabbed a share of the National League home run lead with his 30th and Mike Cameron hit one off closer Heath Bell to tie it with two out in the ninth, but the Marlins still lost to the Padres 4-3 Sunday at Petco Park. The Padres completed the first four-game sweep in the all-time series by either team and sent the Marlins to a season-worst 13 games below .500.

“I would think we’re a better team,” manager Jack McKeon said, after his club’s 15th loss in 17 games. “At least I figured we were a better team. Some of these guys better wake up. This is crunch time. This is the time of year you better be a salesman and sell your wares, show how good you are, show how bad you want to be a major league player. It’s not a picnic and they’re not on scholarship. Sometimes we treat them that way.”

Dodgers’ Blake worries about pinched nerve in neck

DENVER — Casey Blake hit off a tee Sunday, the start of his latest comeback from a pinched nerve in his neck that has bothered him for a significant part of the season. But Blake, who has missed the Dodgers’ last four games, is proceeding with caution. “Obviously, this neck thing is pretty serious,” he said. “I want to be able to move my neck when I’m 50.”

As recently as last month, the 38-year-old third baseman said he wasn’t entertaining the idea of retirement. But he said this weekend that his condition was making him reconsider.

“Sure,” he said. “Obviously, I don’t want to go out like this. Hopefully, with rest in the off-season this thing goes away and I can get ready to play another season. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.” He said he is unsure whether he would continue playing if it meant jeopardizing his long-term health. Blake, who has made three trips to the disabled list and is batting .250 in 58 games, said his goals for the remainder of the season have also changed. Earlier in the year, he talked about wanting to play well enough to essentially force the Dodgers to exercise the $6-million team option in his contract for next season. He says now that his priorities have shifted. “I’m not even worried about that right now,” Blake said. “The main focus is just getting healthy and doing what’s best for my neck and my future.”

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