This “just in” — Justin Morneau can still hit dingers. The Twins first baseman hit two of them this afternoon against the White Sox: a grand slam in the seventh off of Ramon Troncoso to give the Twins a 5-3 lead, and a solo shot in the eighth to remove the save opportunity for closer Glen Perkins by bumping the score to 7-3. Perkins gave up two runs in the ninth on an Alexei Ramirez single, but held on for the 7-5 victory in game one of the day-night doubleheader.
August has been kind to Morneau thus far. In 36 trips to the plate, he has hit five home runs and has only struck out five times. He entered the afternoon 8-for-11 with the bases loaded, but with no grand slams. The slam is his first since July 20, 2009 when he took Gio Gonzalez of the Athletics deep in a wacky 14-13 loss.
The Twins and White Sox match up again shortly as Liam Hendriks is scheduled to face off against Charles Leesman, making his Major League debut for the White Sox.
Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.
Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.
Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.