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Updated: July 3rd, 2011 6:11pm
Despite two shaky outings, Gardenhire says Capps 'is still our closer'

Despite two shaky outings, Gardenhire says Capps 'is still our closer'

by Phil Mackey
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MINNEAPOLIS -- One night after blowing a 7-4 ninth-inning lead, Minnesota Twins closer Matt Capps was pulled from the ninth inning of a 9-7 game against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday after he put two runners on base with only one out.

Manager Ron Gardenhire elected to pull Capps in favor of left-hander Glen Perkins with dangerous lefty Prince Fielder coming to the plate.

The plan worked, as Perkins whiffed Fielder on three pitches, then struck out Casey McGehee to end the game.

"That was a really hard situation," Gardenhire said. "Capps has good numbers, he let me know that on the mound -- 'I've got good numbers against Fielder.' But it was just situation (Perkins) has been so good against the lefty and I just, we gotta win baseball games, and I just thought that was a better match up at the time."

Gardenhire added, "I had (Perkins) up for a reason in case we got to that situation where Prince could tie it up and I went to him.

"(Capps) is still our closer. He's really fired up right now, I guarantee it. He's hot at me and that's fine. I'll take it, I'll wear it, whatever it takes, but we're trying to win baseball games."

Capps, indeed, was not thrilled with the manager's decision.

"(Expletive) no, I don't want to get pulled right there," Capps said. "Absolutely not ... No, I don't ever want to get pulled. (Gardenhire's) job is to win games for this team, and that's what he did."

Capps started the inning by allowing a bloop single to Rickie Weeks. After Nyjer Morgan beat out a double-play ball, Cory Hart hit a hart groundball through the left side of the infield for a one-out single, putting runners on first and second with one out for Fielder.

"I was going up in the zone intentionally (against Weeks), and off the bat I thought it was going to be a routine fly ball and it fell in," said Capps, who had allowed only one earned run in his last 10 innings heading into the weekend.

"I feel like I'm throwing the ball pretty good. I don't know, it seems like every year there's a couple of outings where it just doesn't go your way. I still felt like I had a pretty good shot, and like I said, with Fielder coming up I feel pretty good with what I can do against him. I understand he's a dangerous hitter, and it worked out and it looked great, but it's frustrating for me."

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd