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Twins Need Santana Momentum Tonight

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June 20, 2017

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A Tuesday notes column with items about the Gophers, Timberwolves, Twins and Vikings.

Losers of four consecutive games and now out of first place in the American League Central Division, the Twins are yet again counting on Ervin Santana. He starts tonight’s game at Target Field against the White Sox and he has won almost 25 percent of Minnesota’s games so far this season.

The Twins were outscored 28-8 by the Indians in their four losses from last Friday through Sunday. The Indians now lead the Twins by 2.5 games in the division and the two teams play this coming weekend in Cleveland. Before going on the road, the 34-33 Twins have three games at home against the White Sox, who are 31-37 and in last place in the Central Division.

Santana is 8-4 with a 2:56 ERA. A win tonight will keep him near other major league pitchers for most victories this season. Santana could finish the season as a 20-game winner and the club MVP. The 34-year-old right hander has exceeded expectations and the Twins need one of his better efforts tonight to end their slide.

The Twins have lost 12 of their last 16 home games.

Six of the team’s games at Target Field have been impacted by weather this spring. Three games were delayed and three postponed.

It was 40 years ago that the Twins’ Rod Carew made his famous run to become baseball’s first .400 hitter since Ted Williams in 1941. Carew was a national story and appeared on the July 18, 1977 cover of Time magazine. Carew finished the season at .388, the highest of his Hall of Fame career.

Williams, who played for the Minneapolis Millers before joining the Red Sox, hit .406 in 1941 and is still the last man to average over .400 for a season. Williams, when he was 39 years old in 1957, led the American League in hitting with a .388 average.

When the Gophers play Miami at Williams Arena next November as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, they will see five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker. The freshman is projected to be the No. 8 selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, according Nbadraft.net.

The website has former Apple Valley five-star shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. leaving Duke after one season and being the No. 9 player taken in the first round. J.P. Macura, the shooting guard from Lakeville North, will be a second round pick at No. 44 after completing his senior season at Xavier.

Amir Coffey

Nbadraft.net doesn’t project any Gophers being selected in either the first or second rounds in 2018. The Gophers, though, have a few players, including sophomore forward Amir Coffey, who might work their way on to hypothetical draft boards in the next nine months.

Florida State forward Jonathan Isaac, who led the Seminoles to a home win over the Gophers last season, seems like the right fit for the Timberwolves when they use the No. 7 selection in Thursday night’s NBA Draft—if he is still available. Isaac, 6-10, is a slender but versatile defender who reportedly could bring the kind of defense and toughness the Wolves need. He was a freshman All-American last season.

The Wolves, who would surprise no one if they trade their No. 7 pick, are hosting draft night parties from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday night at Kieran’s Irish Pub in Minneapolis, The Liffey in St. Paul, Bunny’s Bar and Grill in St. Louis Park, and Champps in Eden Prairie.

P.J. Fleck, the Gophers’ 36-year-old football coach, talking about all he has experienced at a young age: “It seems like I should be 67 by now and retiring. My high school gave me the lifetime achievement award in the hall of fame. I got that when I was 34.”

Former Gophers trainer Jim Marshall turns 87 on July 3, the same day ex-Minnesota and Minneapolis Lakers coach John Kundla has his 101st birthday.

Former two-time Gophers All-American tackle Bobby Bell was 77 last Saturday.

Sam Richter, a St. Louis Park native and former Gophers football letter winner, was inducted last week into the Minnesota Speaker Hall of Fame by the National Speakers Association. Richter is only the 28th person ever inducted into the Hall of Fame. Richter, who was an Academic All-American, is considered one of the world’s leading experts on sales intelligence and digital reputation management.

Nemer Fieger, the St. Louis Park-based marketing agency, is working with the Gophers athletic department to better communicate the successes of women’s sports, according to Julie Manning.

Manning, executive associate athletics director, also said the department has launched a campaign to raise $10 million over three years to provide additional resources for head coaches of women’s sports.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer will be in Dallas this weekend for a family wedding. After eight eye surgeries, there probably isn’t a player in the NFL who question’s Zimmer’s toughness.

After two rounds through yesterday, Minikahda Club teaching pro Jeff Sorenson was among the leaders in the PGA Professional Championship in Sunriver, Oregon, according to news from PGA.com. Sorenson finished third in the 2013 tournament at Sunriver Resort.

The Minnesota Youth Football Summit is a free event this Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium that will look at how young players can have a better experience. More information, including online registration, is available at myas.org/football.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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