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Jim Thome & Target Field grace cover of Sports Illustrated this week

Set to hit newsstands Wednesday morning, Sports Illustrated features the rejuvenated Jim Thome and the remarkable new home of the Minnesota Twins, Target Field on its cover.

It has been quite the season to remember for the Twins and kudos to SI for getting the gist of it in one shot. The resurgent Thome and the new digs are probably the two biggest stories in Twinkie land this season among many others.

To say that Thome still gets it done is an understatement. The truth is that the 40-year old is still a master at his craft; power hitting.

In just 268 at-bats this season, the old-school slugger is batting .276 with 24 homers and 58 RBI. 14 of those homers have been deposited since the All-Star break.

In comparison, fallen comrade Justin Morneau batted .345 with 18 homers and 56 RBI in 296 at-bats before going down with a concussion.

Thome’s average is nowhere near Morneau’s, but his power numbers are superior, he has a higher slugging percentage and he is now the one that the Twins count on to bring the lumber to the yard.

And it begs the question, where would the Twins be without the future Hall-of-Famer filling in for the fallen star?

They might still have won the Central Division, but would they be contending for the best record in the American League? Most likely not.

He has single-handedly put the Twins in the win column on multiple occasions and I always think back to that series at Target Field versus the White Sox in mid-August when he clobbered Matt Thornton’s pitch into Target Plaza to win the game in extra innings.

That one swing of the bat was the first wound to the White Sox in the division battle. Chicago later got the dagger in the Twins unstoppable rise in the second half. Had that game ended differently that August night in Minneapolis, who knows how things may have shaken out?

But one thing is for sure, that blast sent a shot of electricity up and down the Twins clubhouse that continues today.

Sports Illustrated can always be counted on to provide magnificent sports shots, and Thome’s is one of the best I’ve seen. The photo is remarkably similar to the first issue of Sports Illustrated, showing Milwaukee Braves star Eddie Mathews at bat in Milwaukee County Stadium.

Quick notes: The Minnesota Twins are playing without arguably their three best hitters right now, yet they sit just one game back of the New York Yankees for the best record in the American League.

Joe Mauer (knee) and Jason Kubel (wrist) have missed the last few games. Morneau has been out since July. Kubel could make his return tonight, but Mauer will undergo an MRI on his knee, although early signs point to the injury not being too serious.

The Twins play game two in their three-game tilt with the Cleveland Indians tonight at Target Field. Scott Baker will make his first start since September 2 for the Twins. He will be looking to obtain a spot on the postseason roster with a strong performance.

Nick Blackburn, Kevin Slowey and Baker will battle it out for the final spot on the postseason starting rotation as the season winds down. One will make the rotation, one will make the bullpen and the other will unfortunately be left off the team.

 

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