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Joe Nathan coming home, indeed.  For the Twins’ 2011 Target Field opener, they pretty much sleepwlked through seven innings at the plate.  Luckily, Carl Pavano was dominating, setting down Oakland A after Oakland A.  Then, in the eighth, Danny Valencia’s infield single was followed by hits from three lefties (Kubel, Span, Mauer) to scratch two runs across.

As this was occuring on the field, Joe Nathan was quickly warming in the pen, anticipating his first Target Field save situation.  When those gates opened and “Stand up and Shout” played over the loudspeakers, it was clear that Mr. Nathan was “Home” at last.

For whatever reason, Joe Nathan is a favorite Twin of mine (just look at the name of this blog).  He’s easily the greatest closer the team has ever had, and there’s just something about a save situation that gets me pumped.  Besides Cuddy gunning a runner, Span slapping a triple, or Thome blasting off, there isn’t anything that will get me on my feet faster than a closer coming into a game to get those final three outs.

I also admire Nathan’s grit and determination.  He started off as a struggling SS with the Giants, then came over here with Liriano and Boof Bonser in the A.J. Pierzynski trade (thanks again, A.J.!) as a so-so reliever.  We gave him Eddie G’s closing role, and he never missed a beat.

If the weather holds out, I may be attending the game either today or Sunday, and I would like nothing more than to see Nathan return to domination in person!

Preview (3-4, T-4, 2.0 GB CLE): Gio Gonzalez (1-0, 1.29) vs. Nick Blackburn (1-0, 1.50).

What We Learned From The Road

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What we learned from the opening road trip of the 2011 season:

1.  At least early on, the Twins a bit overmatched on the road.  We are still very competitive (especially if our starting pitching cooperates), but lag in one key area: our “high flies” settle just before the warning track, while the home team jacks them out.  Until our power threats (Morneau, Young, Kubel) starting swinging the lumber, we are at a big disadvantage.  Thome is fine, though.

2. Our pitchers are going to give up home runs.  Period.  Not a one of them (besides maybe Liriano) is all that great at keeping the ball in the ballpark.  Thus, we better not walk ANYBODY to put extra bodies on the basepaths.  Target Field helps, but we still play 81 on enemy turf.

Oh yeah, and now Matty Tolbert will likely be the everyday 2B-man for awhile because of Nishioka’s broken fibula:

Minnesota Twins second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka (1) grimaces as is injured while forcing out New York Yankees Nick Swisher (33) when Mark Teixeira grounded into a seventh-inning fielder's choice in their baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York, Thursday, April 7, 2011. Nioshoika was taken out of the game after the play. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Preview (2-4, 5th, 2.0 GB CWS/CLE/KCR): Brett Anderson (0-0, 1.50) vs. Carl Pavano (0-1, 15.75).  Home Opener!!

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