April 3, 2008

Twins Waste Blackburn's Strong Start

The Twins bats were dreadful (again) last night as they got shutout by Joe Saunders and the Angels shut them out, 1-0.

The entire night was not a failure however, the team got a great start by Nick Blackburn in his first start in the Major Leagues. Blackburn threw only 86 pitches through 7 innings, but a wild pitch kept him from shutting the Angels out. He fanned 6 batters, including Vladimir Guerrero, twice. Although he doesn't figure to be in the rotation once Francisco Liriano gets back, but this start was definitely encouraging. If nothing else, it vastly improved his value in case the Twins look to move him sometime around the deadline. However if he continues to pitch like this, he may prove to be too valuable to trade.

Matt Guerrier came into the game in the 8th inning and loaded up the bases before Dennys Reyes came in to throw one pitch which became an inning-ending double play. Neshek pitched a hitless 9th inning, just to cap off a great night for the pitchers.

But as the old saying goes, "you can't win a game without scoring any runs, no matter how good your pitcher does." And that was definitely the case for the Twins last night.

The only players to record hits were Carlos Gomez, Michael Cuddyer, Matt Tolbert and Nick Punto (of all people). However I should probably mention that Joe Mauer only had one plate appearance, which was a pinch hit. Mike Lamb was benched in favor of Punto. Gomez failed to lay down a bunt five times. Each time it went foul and he looked disgusted after each time, and I think I found a reason as to why.

Former Twins center fielder Torii Hunter got his first (two) hits as a member of the Angels. He is now 2-12 against the Twins. He attributed his success to "doing things differently" when he got to the Metrodome. He went through a "different door" he claims. How that makes a difference, I'm not sure, but listening to his thoughts after the game, it seems he's finally realizing that, "I'm an Angel now." It's also known that he was with former-twin thirdbaseman Corey Koskie. Koskie is a resident of Minnesota, and the two have remained close friends despite not playing together since 2004.

The Twins made two great plays on defense, however. Justin Morneau made a great stop and flipped the ball to the pitcher from foul territory. And then later, Punto made a phenominal diving throw from third base to Morneau at first base. Both will likely be on Baseball Tonight's "Web Gems."

Morneau was great on offense, but at the plate, he has yet to hit the ball out of the infield. Again, I have been nervous about him all off-season. And I know that he's already making people wonder about his new 6-year $80 million contract, and whether the Twins made a mistake or not. I won't go that far, yet, however if he continues to play like this, I'm sure I will.

Player of the Game
Nick Blackburn - Pitcher

7 innings pitched, 5 hits, 1 run, 6 K's

And finally, on a side not, I just wanted my readers to know that yes, I support the "Free Jason Kubel" Campaign.