Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: Ervin Santana’s mound magic is good news for the Minnesota Twins

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By Eric Nelson
April 18, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the land of April showers...

•Fast Start: MLB does not hand out Cy Young trophies in April, but if Ervin Santana keeps pitching like he has been, he might win the award. Santana (3-0, 0.41 ERA) has been outstanding with 15 strikeouts and just five walks in 22 innings. Santana’s most recent outing was a gem. He threw a complete game one-hitter in the Twins 6-0 win over the Chicago White Sox on Saturday…

•Mound Showdown: Santana’s next start is Thursday against Cleveland in Minneapolis. RHP Corey Kluber (1-1, 6.38 ERA) will start for the Indians. Kluber won the 2014 AL Cy Young award with an 18-9 record…

•Sputtering Starts: Twins’ CF Byron Buxton and 1B Joe Mauer are struggling this season. Buxton is batting .093 (no home runs, no RBI and 23 strikeouts), while Mauer’s average is .213 (no home runs, 6 RBI). All of Mauer’s 10 hits have been singles…

•Crowd Counts: Despite a respectable 7-6 start and mild April weather, people are not exactly flocking to trendy Target Field. Monday’s Indians-Twins game drew just 16,961 fans. In seven home dates Minnesota is averaging 21,677, which is 28th out of 30 MLB teams. Only Tampa Bay (17,977 average) and Oakland (17,131) attract fewer to the ballpark. St. Louis leads the majors in attendance (44,992)…

•Sparse Gathering: The Gopher football team knows all about small turnouts. The estimated crowd for Minnesota’s spring game was a meager 5,000, proving once again that on the college football map Minneapolis is light years away from hotbeds such as Ann Arbor, Baton Rouge, Columbus, Gainesville, Lincoln, Madison, State College, South Bend and Tuscaloosa…

•Free Fall: It’s a worst-case scenario come true for the Minnesota Wild. The Wild trail 3-0 in their first round playoff series and are on the brink of elimination. Compounding the misery is that the Wild are losing to St. Louis. Yes, the same Blues who are coached by Mike Yeo, a guy Minnesota kicked to the curb last season. It’s mind boggling that the Wild are in this spot, after they had their best regular season in franchise history with 106 points…

•Perception is Reality: If the Wild get bounced in round one it will add fuel to the fire for Bruce Boudrerau critics. Boudreau is the NHL’s version of Marty Schottenheimer – a great regular season coach who stumbles in the post-season…

•Hawk Shock: It’s also hard to believe, but the Blackhawks are in the same precarious predicament as the Wild. Nashville defeated Chicago 3-2 in overtime Monday in Tennessee. The Predators have a commanding 3-0 lead in that playoff series and have outscored the Blackhawks 9-2…

•Bad Timing: If the Wild and Blackhawks both get knocked out in round one, Minnesota fans will be saying, “woulda, coulda, shoulda” all off-season. Chicago historically has been playoff kryptonite for Minnesota and this would have been the Wild’s chance to advance without having to get past the Blackhawks…

•Home Cooking: After a 2-2 draw last week in Houston, Minnesota United returns to the Twin Cities for three straight games. Minn U plays Colorado on Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium, then hosts San Jose on April 29 and Sporting KC on May 29…

•Knick Knacks: I am tired of the constant media hype surrounding Phil Jackson, Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks. Who cares? This soap opera is only relevant in the 212 area code. The Knicks are not a well run franchise and don’t have a great history. They get attention simply because they play in NYC. If the Knicks were in Denver, Indianapolis, Minneapolis or Salt Lake City they would be off the grid…

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