Things Are Heating Up

Links for galleries from the games between June 11 and July 4 can be seen on the two pages of my 2011 Twins Galleries page located here: 2011 Twins Galleries

In that time, the Twins have hosted the Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, and Tampa Bay Rays.

Holy cow, this season is going by like a blur and I’m way behind on timely posts! Since my last post near the end of May I have photographed 14 Twins games, including 2 in Milwaukee, and the Twins have made up a full 10 games on 1st place in the central division. On June 1st the Twins were at their lowest point so far this season when they were 16.5 games back in the standings with the worst record in baseball at 20 games under .500. That was until they went on to win 15 of 17 games just as the summer heat kicked into full gear. Now at the all-star break they are trying to prove they are still the contenders everyone expected this season.

The Twins got a big boost in Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Joe Mauer returning from the disabled list. Unfortunately Denard Span, Delmon Young, Jason Kubel, and Justin Morneau have all joined the DL, so the Twins are still trying to piece together lineups on a daily basis.

Joe Mauer smiles at the fans after playing in his first game, on June 17, 2011, since missing 2 months of action due to "bilateral leg weakness".

Tsuyoshi Nishioka returned to the Twins lineup on June 15, 2011 after missing over 2 months because of a broken leg suffered on the first road trip of the season.

However, newcomer Ben Revere has stepped up to be a solid leadoff hitter and also provided a little excitement defensively. Plus, Michael Cuddyer and Danny Valencia are providing some needed power with their bats.

Minnesota Twins center fielder Ben Revere robs Texas Rangers left fielder David Murphy of a base hit by making a diving catch on June 11, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Minnesota Twins first baseman Michael Cuddyer hits a 3-run homerun against the Texas Rangers on June 12, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Minnesota Twins 3rd baseman Danny Valencia connects for a 3-run homerun, his 10th of the season, in the 8th inning against the Tampa Bay Rays on July 4, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins won 7 to 0.

The countdown to #600 continues for Jim Thome who now sits only 5 homeruns away from that historic milestone. It’s going to be very exciting when he reaches #600 and I’m just hoping I’m lucky enough to photograph it when it happens. I can tell you this, if it happens at Target Field I plan to be there for it!

Jim Thome sits at 595 career homeruns halfway through the season.

Minnesota Twins DH Jim Thome gets one step closer to career homerun #600 by hitting a 3-run go-ahead homerun for #594 in the 1st inning against the Milwaukee Brewers on July 1, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Brewers 6 to 2.

I mentioned that I photographed 2 games in Milwaukee since my last post. It was my first time going to Miller Park and to be honest I don’t see myself returning there unless somehow the Twins and Brewers end up facing each other in the World Series. That ballpark is SO DARK, which makes it much more difficult to photograph. In fact it’s so dark in there they actually have lights in their dugouts that you can see in one of the photos below.

Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 25, 2011.

Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer hangs on to the throw from left fielder Delmon Young to tag out Milwaukee Brewers 3rd baseman Casey McGehee at home plate on June 24, 2011 at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Brewers won 4 to 3.

According to the ISO levels I needed to use there, it’s basically at least twice as dark as it is for games at Target Field and that was even with the stadium roof open at Miller Park! It feels like shooting inside a cave and the colors that result are just drab and boring. It really made me appreciate Target Field all that much more. The Twins truly do have a beautiful ballpark not only for simply taking in a game, but also for photographing the action.

The Twins had yet another walk-off victory. This time it was Drew Butera providing the excitement with a base hit in the bottom of the 9th as the Twins beat the San Diego Padres.

Minnesota Twins players mob Drew Butera after he got the game winning base hit in the bottom of the 9th to beat the San Diego Padres 5 to 4 on June 19, 2011 at Target FIeld in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Minnesota Twins catcher Drew Butera gets a shaving cream pie from teammate Luke Hughes after Butera got the game winning hit in the bottom of the 9th inning to beat the San Diego Padres 5 to 4 on June 19, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

One particular interesting event that happened at Target Field was on July 1st the game against the Milwaukee Brewers was delayed by 2 hours by a very swift and very strong rain storm that blew through town. Before it started raining, there were black clouds that could be seen approaching the stadium and when they finally reached overhead it looked like the alien ships from the movie Independence Day descending upon the city. One half of the sky was fairly light and the other half was pitch black. What resulted was some of the heaviest rain I’ve experienced in a long time.

Storm clouds brew over Target Field before a game between the Minnesota Twins and Milwaukee Brewers on July 1, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The game was delayed for 2 hours until the storm passed.

We’ve certainly had our share of crazy weather this season as you might remember the snow game and the hail game from eariler this season. Fortunately, the storm was short lived and the game was able to play out after the delay.

That game on July 1st was also the second and last fireworks game of the season.

The Minnesota Twins put on a fireworks display after their game against the Milwaukee Brewers on July 1, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Another fun event was that Michael Cuddyer was selected to his first All-Star Game of his 10 year career. It was a lot of fun to see him soak in the well deserved honor.

As shown by the stars on his jersey, Michael Cuddyer was selected to the first all-star game of his career after 10 years of playing.

You may or may not know that Michael Cuddyer has also taken up photography as a hobby since last season and he has an active Flickr account. I’m hoping he posts some great photos from the MLB All-Star Game that took place down in Phoenix, Arizona on July 12th at Chase Field.

Here are some of my other favorite photos from the last couple weeks of the season:

Minnesota Twins all-star Michael Cuddyer makes a leaping catch robbing Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Justin Ruggiano of a base hit on July 4, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins won 7 to 0.

Minnesota Twins 2nd baseman Alexi Casilla gets turned over as he unsuccessfully attempting to tag out San Diego Padres catcher Rob Johnson stealing 2nd base on June 19, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Minnesota Twins shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka makes the out at 2nd base as San Diego Padres 1st baseman Anthony Rizzo slides during a game on June 18, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Minnesota Twins players Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Justin Morneau bow to each other as a pre-game ritual before the game against the San Diego Padres on June 18, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Justin Morneau is expected to be out until mid-August because of surgery on a pinched nerve in his neck.

Now I’m gearing up for one of the longest home stands the Twins will have all season. Starting on Thursday, July 14th the Twins will be playing 12 games in 11 days and every game is against division opponents in the Royals, Indians, and Tigers. The reason for 12 games in 11 days is because of a double header on Monday, July 18th against the Indians as a makeup game for the postponed April 22nd game.

I’m planning on photographing at least 6 out of the 12 games, so it’s going to be a very busy couple of weeks coming up for me. What I’ve been doing lately is I’ve been trying to get the notable photos from the games up on my Flickr page within 24 hours of the game and then when the Twins go on the road I do the updates to my website. So follow my Flickr page if you want to see photos from the games quicker.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the photos!

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