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Updated: June 20th, 2011 11:10pm
Twins Daily: Rochester contingent has played no small role in rebound

Twins Daily: Rochester contingent has played no small role in rebound

by Tom Pelissero
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The Minnesota Twins take their hot streak on the road beginning on Tuesday night, when they play the first of three games against the Giants in San Francisco.

Numbers game

This month's resurgence would be remarkable even without considering the names that only recently have left the disabled list (Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Joe Mauer, Glen Perkins) and the names still on it (Jason Kubel, Justin Morneau, Joe Nathan, Denard Span, Jim Thome).

That's $61.2 million in salary -- more than half the Twins' roughly $113 million payroll -- and six position players considered regulars back on Opening Day. Yet look at what some of their replacements have done during the June surge of the Twins (31-39), who have won seven straight and 14 of their past 16 games.

Drew Butera, who delivered the winning hit in Sunday's win, is hitting .375/.385/.625 and has driven in seven runs.

Ben Revere has several spectacular catches to go with .273/.314/.303 hitting, four stolen bases and 10 runs scored.

Luke Hughes is hitting .333/.375/.400 and has filled holes at three positions.

Matt Tolbert also has played multiple spots and is hitting .256/.319/.395 with eight RBIs, including a go-ahead single late on Sunday.

Rene Rivera has become Francisco Liriano's personal catcher, helping the left-hander post a 1.80 earned-run average and 24 strikeouts in 20 innings.

• Even Brian Dinkelman, who was outrighted back to Triple-A Rochester on Thursday, reached base seven times in 17 big-league plate appearances.

"They were hot before I got here, and I've just been sitting on the bench," said Rene Tosoni, who had only seven June plate appearances before delivering a key RBI double on Sunday.

"It seems like there's been a lot of fire on the bench, and people are picking up one another on the bench or on the field. We've got Morneau on the bench, and he's still out there watching the game with us, and Kubel, and they're all picking up one another and keeping everybody in the game."

If not for injuries, the entire group -- save for one of the catchers, Butera or Rivera -- probably would be in Rochester.

Instead, they're part of the group that has slashed the Twins' deficit in the American League Central Division from 16½ games to 7½ in less than three weeks.

Health watch

• 3B Danny Valencia (upper arm strain) expressed optimism on Sunday that he would be ready to play on Tuesday.

• Nathan (elbow tenderness) is scheduled to pitch for Rochester on Tuesday and Wednesday. If all goes well, he likely would rejoin the Twins on Friday at Milwaukee.

• Thome (back/quadriceps) was scheduled to play in simulated games beginning on Monday, with an appearance against RHP Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) on Wednesday.

• OF Denard Span (concussion) and OF Jason Kubel (sprained foot) were not expected to travel with the team to San Francisco.

• 1B Justin Morneau (sore left wrist) is scheduled to have his cast removed at the end of the week.


"He was a player before, and he knows how tough it is. He knows you can have slow months or down months and anything can happen."
-- Butera, on Twins manager Ron Gardenhire

On deck

The defending world champion Giants (39-33) lead the National League West by a half-game over Los Angeles. But they enter the series having lost four consecutive games, including three by one run, to Arizona and Oakland. They're one of the weakest offensive teams in baseball, ranking 25th in batting average (.239) and slugging (.357), 27th in on-base percentage (.305) and 29th in runs (248). A pitching staff that leads baseball in strikeouts (586) and has a 3.27 ERA has kept the Giants afloat.

Left-hander Madison Bumgarner (3-8, 3.21) gets the ball on Tuesday (9:15 p.m., 1500 ESPN Twin Cities) in search of his 11th consecutive "quality" start and his win this season at AT&T Park. The 21-year-old North Carolina native was the Giants' first-round pick (10th overall) in 2007, made his big-league debut two years later and was 7-6 with a 3.00 ERA, 86 strikeouts and 26 walks in 18 starts last season. According to, Bumgarner's velocity is up this season, with his fastball averaging nearly 92 mph and his slider coming in near 87.

He'll oppose Carl Pavano (4-5, 4.20), who tossed his 16th career complete game in his last outing, allowing one run on six hits in a win over the White Sox. In eight career appearances (seven starts) against the Giants, Pavano is 2-3 with a 4.89 ERA.

Coming up

• Wednesday: at San Francisco, 9:15 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (6-4, 3.16) vs. RHP Ryan Vogelsong (4-1, 1.92).
• Thursday: at San Francisco, 2:45 p.m. LHP Brian Duensing (4-6, 4.82) vs. RHP Tim Lincecum (5-6, 3.39).
• Friday: vs. Milwaukee, 7:10 p.m. RHP Scott Baker (5-4, 3.24) vs. TBD.

Phil Mackey contributed.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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