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Game Thread: Twins @ Tigers 9-24 11:10 AM CT

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:40 AM
ANNND Welcome back! To Minnesota Twins Whine Line: Cocktail Lounge Edition! I am your waiter for the afternoon, Van Benoit. The Twins are...
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Twins fire Dougie Baseball

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 10:38 AM
http://m.startribune...?section=sports   Bummer. He sounds pretty pissed about it. Best of luck to him in the future.
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Buxton's ability to learn

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:38 AM
Besides winning, the most fun I've had is watch Byron Buxton blossom right in front of us. A couple great articles lately chronicling......
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It's Never Too Early for Magic Number

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:26 AM
Just a little Spreadsheet fun for those interested in knowing how many wins/losses the Twins need to clinch a playoff spot  ...
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Article: MIN 10, DET 4: Twins Blow Out Tigers Bullpen

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:59 AM
One moment it looked like the Twins were going to blow a quality start from Ervin Santana, the next moment they were blowing out the Tige...
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Three-Bagger: Collabello Crushing, Comeback Kubel & Ice-Cold Nolasco

* The Twins' offense has been a very pleasant surprise in the first week of the season.

Though it hasn't always been pretty, and sloppy play from opposing defenses in Chicago and Cleveland were undeniable contributors, the Twins have scored 38 runs through their first six games.

The biggest story in the lineup is Chris Colabello. He has already piled up 11 RBI in five starts after hitting .349 in spring play. This guy is just sitting dead red.
Colabello has struck out five times in 24 plate appearances (a promising early reduction from last year's sky-high 32 percent K-rate) and he's batting .500 on balls in play.

Obviously that's not sustainable, but it speaks to how well he's driving the ball. He's been an unexpected anchor in the Twins' lineup, and right now he's appointment viewing for fans. Colabello feels like the biggest singular reason the Twins are at 3-3 after a season-opening road trip where the weather was crisp but the play often was not.

Shaded by all the crazy elements of his journey, Collabello's immense success right off the bat has been energizing for a fan base that was notably subdued at the outset of the season.

* Jason Kubel's fast start has been largely overshadowed by the heroics of Colabello, but it's no less encouraging. Kubel has been in the starting lineup for three games, and has delivered multiple hits in each. Sunday's 2-for-4 effort lifted his average to .412.

While you can only put so much stock into these things, Kubel showed distinct improvement over the course of spring camp. He was whiffing constantly in the early games, but by the later weeks was connecting with frequency.

I remember being struck by Ron Gardenhire's answer to a question about Kubel after a Grapefruit League game in Ft. Myers.

"I worry about some things, I don't worry about Kube," he said. "Kube can hit. He's always been able to hit. If he just goes out and gets his swinging in and gets comfortable, the guy can light it up, I know that. He's healthy, I know he can hit."

It was a particularly matter-of-fact response about a player who was designated for assignment by one team and benched by another during a challenging 2013, but Gardy echoes Kubel's assertion that a lingering quad injury was primarily responsible for those struggles.

If that proves to be the case, he could turn out to be quite a find, because Kubel was an above-average hitter (by OPS+) for six straight seasons prior to last year.

Gardenhire has done a good job of playing match-ups and deploying the righty-masher strategically so far, but that essentially goes out the window now that Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia are both batting sore wrists. For the time being, it appears that Kubel will be a regular in the outfield.

Hopefully the manager's confidence continues to be rewarded.

Attached Image: kubelhigh5.jpg

Photo by David Banks, USA TODAY Sports

* While these early games have been marked by a refreshing uptick in offense, it's been the same old story for the pitching staff. After leading the majors in hits allowed in 2013, the Twins have allowed double-digit knocks in each of their first six contests.

The first turn through the rotation produced one quality start, from (who else?) Kevin Correia. On Sunday, Ricky Nolasco delivered his second straight clunky outing -- an inauspicious debut for the prized offseason acquisition.

Nolasco throws a lot of breaking stuff, and in his first two starts we've seen too many flat pitches and floaters. But at the same time, this is a guy who's pitched in southern Florida for the last eight years, and is now trying to spin all kinds of pitches in the chill of the springtime Midwest.

I suspect that as the weather heats up, so too will Nolasco. The rotation could use a stabilizing force.

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