I don't want to talk about last night. I haven't wanted to talk about last night all day. The Twins have 24 games left this season, and the number of favors they've done themselves over the last few weeks amounts to zero. If they'd like to take control of their own destiny, they're free to do so at any time.
Tonight the Twins run out Nick Blackburn, who in spite of having a 3.70 ERA in his last 10 starts is 2-4 in that span. He's voiced frustrations over not having his best stuff, and over having the few mistakes he's made get taken advantage of, so it seems the best thing for him to do against the Jays is to establish what does and what can work early on, and to attack Toronto based on how he feels. If he doesn't have confidence in his breaking balls, or if he struggles to locate his fastball, it'll be interesting to see how he approaches hitters. If he's on his game, the Jays will put a lot of balls in play, but if they're converted into outs it should also make him efficient and allow him to get to the seventh inning or beyond. I call seven innings, two runs.
A.J. Burnett: Even having lost some velocity on his fastball, averaging 94.2 mph still makes it one of the fastest fastballs in the majors. Unlike Purcey, Burnett is pitching better than his numbers indicate, pulling down a 3.65 xFIP. As much as I hate to see the Twins face a good pitcher, as a baseball fan it's nice to see Burnett having a decent season. His strikeout rates are still high, and his walk rates are relatively static. It's interesting to see his ground-ball rates on the south side of 50%, but they're still so close that one or two games could easily put that ratio back to where it's been for most of Burnett's career. In addition to a good fastball, the 31-year old Burnett throws a changeup, curveball and an occasional slider.
Yay for our first right-hander in 753 games! I predict: Span (RF), Casilla (2B), Mauer (C), Morneau (1B), Kubel (DH), Young (LF), Buscher (3B), Punto (SS), Gomez (CF)
And for the home team: Inglett (2B), Scutaro (SS), Rios (RF), Wells (CF), Lind (DH), Overbay (1B), Barajas (C), Rolen (3B), Snider (LF)
|2008 - Nick Blackburn||9-8||27||27||0||0||0||0||163.0||186||82||68||15||30||80||3.75||1.33|
|2008 - A.J. Burnett||16-10||30||29||1||0||0||0||186.2||186||99||93||19||74||193||4.48||1.39|