Nick Blackburn pitched very effectively in his return to the starting rotation for the Minnesota Twins as they defeated the Kansas City Royals in 11, 2-1. Blackburn pitched 6.2 innings while allowing only one earned run on seven hits.
Blackburn had only one blemish in a phenomenal start after returning from the minors tonight. He allowed a two-out RBI double in the bottom of the seventh off the bat of Yuniesky Betancourt to tie the score 1-1. That would end Blackburn’s day and yet again, the Twins would hand it off to Tyler Robertson and the bullpen. Robertson struck out Alex Gordon on a nasty slider to end the inning.
The next time the score changed was the top of the 11 inning when Joe Mauer lead the inning off with a double to add to a 3-4 day. Up next was Josh Willingham who hit a groundball just out of the reach of the second basemen Betancourt to score Mauer from second to take the lead 2-1.
Glen Perkins came in to close out the game in the bottom of the 11, but it would be a much more difficult outing than he expected. Alcides Escobar led the inning off with a double and then Billy Butler hit a fly ball that was caught by Revere. Escobar, who didn’t tag up right away, made the play interesting, but a poor throw by Alexi Casilla to Jamey Carroll allowed Escobar to slide in safely to third. Up next was Mike Moustakas who, with the infield in, hit an 0-1 ground ball right to Casilla. This time, Casilla was not going to be denied as he threw a perfect strike to Mauer. Mauer easily tagged Escobar out, threat averted. Perkins then got Jarrod Dyson to ground out on an 0-2 pitch to end the game.
Darin Mastroiannai, who played left field tonight, was a single and a double shy of the cycle as he hit a solo homer in the second inning off of Luke Hochevar. He also hit a leadoff triple in the top of the tenth, but was stranded.
It was good to see Blackburn pitch well in this game, especially since the offense had no desire to show up (1-8 with runners in scoring position). He seemed to locate his pitches well and didn’t try to do too much. It was just too bad that his at-bat against Betancourt didn’t go as well; he might have had a chance to record the win.
There was, however, some bad news from this game as Trevor Plouffe left the game with a bruised thumb. He will be day to day.
If you thought this game was fun, get ready for tomorrow’s game that is sure to be full of drama, Scott Diamond and great divisional play! There is only half of a game between fourth and fifth now with tonight’s victory by the Twins. If Diamond can deliver, we might be looking at a fourth place Twins’ team tomorrow night!
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