Twins designated hitter Byron Buxton strikes out against the Yankees on April 16 at Yankee Stadium. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Minnesota Twins starters Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, Pablo Lopez, Bailey Ober and Louie Varland are a combined 16-3 this season. That’s pitching. As hitters, though, the Twins lead the majors in strikeouts with 438 in 45 games.
Asked at a recent Twin Cities Dunkers gathering why Twins hitters lead the majors in strikeouts, chief baseball executive Derek Falvey joked, “Next question.”
Falvey added that strikeouts don’t mean fewer runs, and that he expects the Twins by the end of the season to be somewhere in the middle of the majors.
Meanwhile, the Twins’ Triple-A St. Paul Saints have the most strikeouts in all the minor leagues, 452 in 41 games.
>> The first-place Twins are averaging 20,469 attendance per game, 18th in baseball.
>> The Cubs team the Twins played the other day at Target Field has only one player — starter Kyle Hendricks — left from the 2016 club that won the World Series.
Hendricks is the son of former Kellogg High and Minnesota state golf standout John Hendricks, 65, who was a longtime club professional in southern California. Kyle, 33, who is about to come off a nine-month shoulder rehab, started the winning Game 7 of the 2016 World Series in Cleveland.
>> Among the capacity 240 turnout at the Mancini’s St. Paul Sports Hall of Fame banquet Monday was former NFL wide receiver Michael Floyd, who was sporting his 2016 New England Patriots Super Bowl championship ring. The gigantic piece of jewelry contains 328 diamonds.
“Because we were losing 3-28 at halftime and came back to win,” Floyd said.
Floyd, 33, the Cretin-Derham Hall grad who set Notre Dame records for receptions before a splendid eight-year NFL career (including 2017 with the Vikings), is in the local real estate business.
>> Little Falls, Minn., native Jim Langer sold his 1972 Miami Dolphins Super Bowl championship ring for $37,375 via auction.
>> What’s interesting about the Vikings schedule this year is that they play the Lions, who are favored in their division, two of the last three regular-season games, at home on Christmas Eve and two weeks later in the last game of the season in Detroit. Then the Vikings are home against the Packers on New Year’s Eve on a Sunday night. The Lions, after a terrible start last season, won eight of their last 10 games.
In the second game of the Vikings schedule, for the second straight year and in the second week, the Vikings play at Philadelphia. Three of the Vikings’ five primetime TV games are at home.
The Vikings won’t have to play in the cold in Green Bay or Chicago in December, so the only cold weather game they’ll play on the road in December is in Cincinnati. Usually that’s beneficial for teams that play indoors on artificial turf like the Vikings.
>> Look for the Vikings in 2024 to play a home game overseas, probably in England.
>> Ex-Gopher Tanner Morgan survived rookie camp with the Pittsburgh Steelers and on Tuesday begins organized team activities essentially competing for the No. 4 QB spot. The undrafted free agent received a $25,000 signing bonus and would make the NFL minimum salary of $750,000 if he makes the team.
>> Another undrafted free agent, ex-Gophers running back Mo Ibrahim, received a guaranteed $100,000 signing bonus from the Detroit Lions, with a base salary of $750,000 if he makes the team.
>> The Vikings are hoping for attendance of 3,000 at U.S. Bank Stadium for Sunday afternoon’s public celebration of hall of fame coach Bud Grant’s life. At Grant’s private funeral in Eden Prairie in March, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones spent $3,000 for a flower bouquet in the shape of a cross.
>> The Cretin-Derham Hall baseball team that plays strong-hitting St. Thomas Academy on Monday evening at Siebert Field has three players committed to Division I schools and could have five by season’s end, led by Maryland-bound junior slugger PJ Jones, who is a grandson of former Minnesota Twin Cesar Tovar.
>> East Ridge 6-2, 200-pound junior left-handed pitcher Max Arlich, whose fastball reaches 90-mph and who has a nice curveball, has committed to Texas A&M.
>> Nick Kinsey, the 6-2, 195-pound Stillwater freshman QB who already has been offered scholarships by Mississippi and Connecticut, displayed a strong arm during a seven-on-seven high school passing competition last weekend.
>> Isabella McCauley, the Gophers freshman golf star from Simley, has name, image and likeness (NIL) deals with 2nd Swing and Vermillion State Bank.
McCauley, who shot an opening NCAA championship round of 74 on Friday in Scottsdale, Ariz., during qualifying regionals in Chatham Hills, Ind., putted for birdie on 35 of her last 36 holes in rounds of 67-68.
>> On the same day, last Wednesday, that Deephaven’s Tim Herron of the PGA Champions Tour was earning a spot in the U.S. Senior Open, sophomore son Carson’s University of New Mexico team was earning a spot in the NCAA men’s championship. He shot 71.
>> Love it: That was 101-year-old Ruth Glarner spotted at her Somerset Country Club driving range the other day getting fitted for a new driver.
>> Totino-Grace grad Joe Alt, a junior at Notre Dame, is the No. 2-ranked offensive lineman for next year’s NFL draft, per nfldraftbuzz.com, and projected as the No. 11 overall pick by the Packers via nflmockdraftdatabase.com.
>> Roseville grad Mike Muscala, in the NBA conference finals with the Celtics against Miami, has a chance to play for the NBA championship if Boston can rally after two opening defeats.
>> Distinguished grad Mark Dienhart has been named to the University of St. Thomas’ board of trustees.
>> Apple Valley grad Tre Jones of the San Antonio Spurs is among five finalists for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar social justice champion award that includes a $100,000 donation by the NBA of the winner’s choosing. The other four finalists will receive a $25,000 contribution on their behalf.
>> Bloomington Jefferson grad Jake Irvin, after Tommy John surgery two years ago, made his major league debut for the Washington Nationals the other day against the Cubs.
>> Drew Gilbert, the former Stillwater star, has been promoted from the Astros’ Class A Asheville club, where he was hitting .360 in 21 games, to Double A Corpus Christi.
>> Former Cretin-Derham Hall and Gophers center Daniel Oturu is expected to be in the Chicago Bulls NBA training camp next season after averaging 11.2 points and 5.8 rebounds for the G League Windy City Bulls this season.
>> Happy birthday: Gophers hall of fame baseball coach John Anderson turned 68 on Monday.
>> Former Gophers women’s basketball star Janel McCarville is new girls coach at her alma mater Stevens Point (Wis.) Area High.
>> Frankie Capan III, who is from North Oaks and recently won $52,500 in a Korn Ferry golf tournament, averages 321.6 yards driving. While there are 82 players on the PGA Tour averaging at least 300 yards off the tee, there are 112 on the Korn Ferry averaging 300 or more yards.
>> Elk River grad Josh Hebrink, a junior at Piedmont University, made eagle on the 424-yard 17th hole in Friday’s final round at Keene Trace Golf Club (Ky.) to shoot 66 and win the NCAA Division III men’s championship by one stroke.
>> Former Gopher Kris Humphries, who is an investor in Five Guys eatery franchises, is also getting into the Dave’s Hot Chicken franchise business.
>> Ted Steichen, the retired longtime St. Paul sporting goods proprietor, is recovering after a major scare from dehydration.
>> Monroe High Hall of Fame inductees on June 11 at DeGidio’s: Dan Nitti, Hank Riehm, Dennis Moravec, Bob Rudolph, Scott Darwitz, Wayne Hurley and Bob Luck.
Don’t print that
>> The Vikings, who won 13 games last season, look like a nine- or 10-victory team this year. That would mean they would have to trade up to draft an elite quarterback.
Depending on how Kirk Cousins, who turns 35 in August, plays this year, it’s not out of the question that the Vikings bring him back on a new contract. That would have to be a two-year guaranteed deal totaling about $85 million.
>> QB Kyler Murray was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft by Arizona. Murray currently is rehabbing from ACL knee surgery. The Cardinals might be the worst team in the NFL next season, and they currently have two first-round picks in next year’s draft.
Two QBs — USC’s Caleb Williams and North Carolina’s Drake Maye — are expected to go Nos. 1 and 2 in next year’s draft. If Arizona bottoms out and decides to take either of Williams or Maye in the draft, Murray, 25, potentially could become a trade candidate should the Vikings feel he’s a better option than Cousins.
>> Pssst: If the Vikings couldn’t unload Za’Darius Smith, which they did on Cleveland, they probably would have traded fellow pass rusher Danielle Hunter.
>> Vikings offensive linemen Brian O’Neill and Ezra Cleveland enjoy playing golf together. During the last six games of 2021 season, Cleveland would face four of the best defensive tackles in the NFL.
As an incentive, O’Neill, the Pro Bowl right tackle, told Cleveland that if he finished the season without allowing a QB hit or sack, he would buy him a new set of irons. Cleveland ended up shutting down his opponents, and O’Neill bought him an expensive set of PXG irons.
>> The Twins have nine days to decide whether to promote infielder Royce Lewis, 23, from the Saints or keep him in St. Paul. Lewis, who has hit three homers in three games with the Saints, could be the Twins’ answer at third base.
>> By remaining with the Gophers for his sophomore season rather than sign with the Arizona Coyotes, first-round draft pick Logan Cooley passed on a $950,000, three-year entry level deal. But the 19-year-old can get the same contract next spring.
>> Kevin Garnett is still expected to be part of Timberwolves ownership if Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore finalize their $1.5 billion purchase next year.
Rodriguez, by the way, reportedly is planning to build a multi-billion dollar fund to invest in minority shares of assorted NFL, NHL and major league baseball teams, per the New York Post. Lore apparently isn’t part of the plan.
>> The Gophers football team will win 6.5 games next season, projects SportsBetting.ag. Wisconsin, under new coach Luke Fickell, will win nine.
>> Considering his Big Ten experience and career track record, Gophers athletics director Mark Coyle would seem a likely prospect for the AD job that opened Friday at the University of Southern California, which joins the Big Ten next year.
>> Shortstop Keoni Cavaco, 21, the Twins’ first-round draft pick five years ago, is batting .183 in 22 games at Class A Cedar Rapids. He received a $4.05 million signing bonus
First baseman Aaron Sabato, 23, the Twins’ No. 1 pick four years ago, is batting .100 in four games at Double-A Wichita. He received a $2.75 million signing bonus.
>> Spencer Steer, 25, whom the Twins traded for starter Tyler Mahle, is starting at first base for the Reds while hitting .255 with five home runs in the No. 3 spot in the order. Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 23, also included in the deal, is hitting .360 with 10 homers at Triple-A Louisville and could be promoted to the majors soon.
Mahle, 28, a free agent after the season, is out for the year with impending Tommy John surgery.
>> Johnson High, which has a proud hockey tradition and Herb Brooks among its noted grads, is expected to have just 14 players next season but is determined to compete.
>> It was Byron Buxton who helped influence the Twins’ acquisition of Carlos Correa, and Correa who helped influence the signing of Pablo Lopez. The Twins consider the trio the club’s leaders.
>> Whether Buxton, 29, returns to center-field will in part be up to him and his agent.
>> How tough was Joe Kapp, who died at age 85 the other day? In a playoff game, when fearsome 6-5, 270-pound hall of fame Deacon Jones of the Rams lined up across from Kapp just before a snap from center, Kapp shouted an expletive at Jones with a warning that he better be ready because Kapp was going to run the next play right through him, and did.
>> Ex-Gophers men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino the other day received a contract extension from New Mexico through 2027-2028 with a pay increase of $300,000 a year. He’ll make $1.1 million next season. His last contract at Minnesota was worth $2.46 million a year.
>> Plans are underway for a major celebration in Shelby, Montana, on July 4 for the 100th anniversary of the world heavyweight boxing championship match between “The Manassa Mauler” Jack Dempsey and St. Paul’s Tommy Gibbons in Shelby. Gibbons, who reportedly received $100,000 to fight the legendary Dempsey, lost a 15-round unanimous decision. Gibbons went on to become Ramsey County sheriff and was credited with clearing gangsters out of his hometown.
>> Jamison Battle’s move to Ohio State from the Gophers was ranked the 23rd-best NCAA transfer portal transaction since last basketball season, per cbssports.com. His annual NIL valuation is $17,000, per on3.com.
>> The Wild’s Xcel Energy Center tied for second among the NHL’s 32 arenas in highest cost of beer at $1.25 per ounce, per a CanadaSportsBetting survey.
Former New England Patriots wide receiver Michael Floyd on what future hall of fame QB Tom Brady was like in the huddle: “Demanding.”