After a decent outing against Los Angeles his last time out, Nick Blackburn threw a stellar game to open the series. With the Twins starting pitching struggling as of late, they needed some good outings during the series. This would be tough because the Indians are a very good hitting ballclub, but have gotten off to a very rocky start. Blackburn would last seven innings, giving up one earned run off six hits, while striking out four batters. Recently called up Jose Mijares would relieve Blackburn in the eighth and pitch a scoreless inning. Although it wasn’t a save situation, Joe Nathan would get some work by pitching a scoreless ninth.
Justin Morneau tacked on his fourth homerun off the season in the fourth inning off Cleveland pitcher, Fausto Carmona to make it a 3-1 score at the time. The Twins would also get RBIs from Jason Kubel, Joe Crede and Jose Morales. Morales as been a pleasant surprise to the Twins, who are eagerly awaiting Joe Mauer’s return from his back issues.
If you thought Nick Blackburn’s performance Friday night was something to talk about, Kevin Slowey “one-upped” Blackburn. Kevin Slowey, who fixed a mechanical problem that noticed after his second start, pitched a near complete game shutout. We all know Kevin Slowey is the command guru of the Twins five starting pitchers and today he backed that up. In eight innings of work, he gave up one earned run off eight hits. Of the 114 pitches he threw, 84 of them were called for strikes. He would go on to strike out seven batters and walk none. Slowey would attempt to go for the complete game shutout, but he would give up three straight singles to load the bases, before being relieved by Luis Ayala.
If there is one Twins hitter that has surprised me the most this season, it has to be Jason Kubel. He has been on fire since the Los Angeles series when he hit for the cycle. He would take on two more homeruns in this game, one of which game in a back-to-back effort with Joe Crede in the ninth.
With the Twins trying to go for the sweep, they sent Glen Perkins to the mound. In his first three starts, Perkins lasted eight innings each time. Today was a different story. In his first start away from the Metrodome, Perkins lasted just five innings, giving up four earned runs off seven hits. The positive from the Twins pitching today was their bullpen. They pitched three scoreless innings in an attempt to give the Twins hitting a chance to comeback.
As many Twins fans know, the Twins always struggle when they have runners in scoring position with zero or one out in a critical situation. Well that arose in the seventh inning. Down 4-2 and runners on 2nd and 3rd, Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel both came up to the plate and both of them struck out swinging. I almost expect this to happen when we have the bases loaded or runners in scoring position with no one out or one out. The only high note for the Twins offense today was Jose Morales. Hit hot hitting would continue has he would go 4-for-4 to raise his average to .375.
The Twins will now head home and try to take advantage of a struggling Tampa Bay team. The Twins also announced that Joe Mauer could make his return during this series at some point, rather than the Kansas City series. The Twins would send Jose Morales down to Triple-A Rochester, while Mike Redmond jumps back into his normal back-up role.