Unearned runs are a part of the game, but nobody wants to get beat on one. Yet it's not how the runs score that matter. On Saturday night Gio Gonzalez and Nick Blackburn exchanged zeros for most of the game, but with two outs in the sixth the baseball gods intervened.
Kurt Suzuki's two-out single was the first of three events that ultimately led to the Twins loss. A wild pitch moved Suzuki to second, and finally a routine ground ball to Alexi Casilla that ended in a low throw. With two outs the grounder allowed Suzuki to move to third freely, and when the ball skipped past Morneau's outstretched glove he walked home. Sure, Justin Morneau didn't do himself any favors by closing his eyes when the ball hit the dirt, but he didn't throw it there. Bert mentioned on the replay that the Twins expect their players to make the routine plays, and really that's what every team expects, but this was as routine as it gets. Casilla needs to get his throws up.
The Twins had a few highlights. Blackburn pitched really well, in spite of the fact that he never had a one-two-three inning. In the top of the first, Delmon Young ended the inning by picking up Josh Willingham's single and throwing a strike to Joe Mauer at the plate to nail Daric Barton by a good five feet. And of course the bullpen kept Oakland off the board to give the home team offense a chance.
But those late chances never came. The best chances to score, in both the fourth and the fifth, ended with nothing to show. Two former Twins, Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes, paired for three scoreless innings.
Low-scoring games can be fun. But this one seemed a little flat. Partially because the Twins lost, but partially because the Twins never seemed like they were poised to threaten late in the game.
Rubber match today at noon. See you then.
Delmon Young: Great outfield assist, walk
Nick Blackburn: Six innings, one unearned run
Twins Bullpen: Perkins, Burnett, Hughes, Capps and Mijares combine for three scoreless innings
Alexi Casilla: The critical error
Joe Mauer: A big strikeout and groundout with runners on second and third in the fifth
Denard Span: Fielding error, and missed chance to score a run with one out and a runner on third