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Updated: June 24th, 2011 10:02pm
Twins Daily: Finger pointing abound as Twins drop third straight

Twins Daily: Finger pointing abound as Twins drop third straight

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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Prince Fielder's two-RBI double off Jose Mijares lifted the Milwaukee Brewers to a 4-3 win on Friday night over a Minnesota Twins squad that has now dropped three straight games after previously winning 15 of 17.

The skinny

It looked as if Danny Valencia's go-ahead, three-run homer in the top of the sixth inning would provide enough of a boost to put the Twins back in the win column.

But Fielder -- possibly the hottest hitter in baseball these days -- answered with a two-run double off Mijares in the bottom of the seventh inning to swing the momentum back to the Brewers for good.

"(Mijares) made a terrible pitch," Gardenhire told reporters after the game. "We damn sure didn't want Prince to beat us, and he did."

Mijares was apparently puzzled by his catcher's pitch selection.

"I don't know what was going on with (Joe) Mauer," Mijares told MLB.com. "He never put down a sign for breaking ball. Never. It was fastball, fastball, fastball, fastball."

Mauer responded by saying he "called for a fastball there. I didn't call for it down the middle."

Aside from Valencia's bomb, the Twins offense came up stagnant once again Friday, collecting only six hits altogether.

Scott Baker lasted 6 2/3 innings and was charged with all four Milwaukee runs.

Turning point

With the Twins leading 3-2, Rickie Weeks slapped a one-out single to right field, and the next batter, Nyjer Morgan, dropped down what was supposed to be a sacrifice bunt.

Baker sprinted off the mound to field the ball, but his throw skipped short of first baseman Luke Hughes, who was unable to make the scoop. The play was ruled a hit, putting runners on first and second with one out.

After Ryan Braun popped out for the second out, left-hander Mijares came in to face Fielder, who promptly laced a two-run double down the right-field line.

Had Baker made a clean throw to first base, or had Hughes made the scoop, the Brewers likely would not have taken the lead.

But mixing in a breaking ball wouldn't have hurt either.

Numbers game

.186: Mauer's batting average this season after an 0-for-4 performance Friday.

65: RBIs for Fielder this season

66: RBIs for the Twins' top two run producers, Danny Valencia and Michael Cuddyer, combined.

8: Home runs for Valencia this season, which ranks second on the team.

Health report

• 1B Justin Morneau has elected to undergo neck surgery to repair a pinched nerve, and he will likely miss at least six weeks. Morneau has been playing through numbness in his left arm and hand all season, and he has also dealt with an unrelated left wrist injury.

• DH Jim Thome experienced "some issues" with his back on Thursday, and the Twins elected not to activate him for Friday's game in Milwaukee. Thome did make the trip, and it's possible he could still be activated Saturday or Sunday.

• OF Denard Span (concussion) took swings Friday for the first time in three weeks. A timetable for his return is still unknown.

• OF Jason Kubel (sprained foot) had a "very good day of running," according to head athletic trainer Rick McWane, per Fox Sports North. It's possible Kubel could be activated early next week.

On deck

The Twins look to recapture their early-June surge by sending left-hander Francisco Liriano (4-6, 4.59) to the mound on Saturday (6:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN) to face right-hander Yovani Gallardo (8-4, 4.11).

Coming up

• Sunday: at Milwaukee, 1:10 p.m. RHP Carl Pavano (5-5, 4.05) vs. LHP Chris Narveson (4-5, 4.55).
• Monday: vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, 7:10 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (6-5, 3.15) vs. RHP Chad Billingsley (6-6, 4.48).
• Tuesday: vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, 7:10 p.m. LHP Brian Duensing (4-7, 4.54) vs. LHP Ted Lilly (5-7, 4.63).

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