Nick Blackburn didn't stick to the equation today. He knows how it's supposed to go. He's done it before.
- Throw strikes.
- Get ground balls.
- Defense makes plays.
For the first three innings it went pretty well. Three up, three down in the first and the second. Mark Kotsay went yard to lead off the third, but Blackburn sat down each of the next three batters. But in the fourth all hell broke loose. Three singles, a double, a triple and an intentional walk later, the Brewers had put five runs on the board to take a commanding 6-1 lead.
But today would belong to the Twins.
Jim Thome gave the Twins the lead in the second by belting his 595th career skyjack into right field. And he wasn't the only offense today. After Milwaukee sucker punched the Twins with that five-run fourth, Minnesota bounced back with a trio of two out runs in the bottom half of the inning. Thome walked and Danny Valencia doubled, settting up Rene Tosoni for a not mildly surprising three-run homer over the big wall in right-center field. It was energizing, and it suddenly felt like maybe this one wasn't over after all.
Their next time up, Michael Cuddyer drove in the first of his two RBI with a single. In the bottom of the seventh, the Twins trailing 7-5, he'd come through again with a two out RBI single. With the Brewers on the ropes and the bases loaded, Valencia came through with a line drive into left. Kotsay biffed his pickup, and Thome plodded all the way around from first base to give the Twins a 9-7 advantage.
Joe Nathan pitched a perfect eighth, setting up an opportunity for Matt Capps to redeem himself after his disastrous implosion last night. He wasn't able to get the job done, departing after just 13 pitches with one out and runners on first and second base. Gardy went to Glen Perkins. Perk's first challenge involved going through Prince Fielder.
Perk struck out Fielder on three pitches.
Casey McGehee saw five pitches but the result was the same. He swung over a changeup in the dirt, Joe Mauer applied the tag, and that was all she wrote. Perkins has been the Twins' best relief pitcher all season, and his performance in closing the door on Milwaukee this afternoon was the perfect illustration of this fact.
Nathan is on his way back up. Capps is on his way down. But today we may have watched Glen Perkins take their job.
- You've probably heard this by now, but the Twins' lone All-Star representative this season will be one Michael Cuddyer. With two singles and two runs batted in today, he's showing us all why he was the one. For a guy who bleeds Twins blue, and for a guy who has a great many more days behind him as a player in this game than ahead of him, this is great to see. It's good to see him have this honor. Congratulations, Cuddles.
- Thome's home run was awesome. Know what else is awesome? Having offensive value outside of batting average. Thome's on-base percentage, after today's game, is more than 120 points higher than said batting average.
- If you still don't know how useless the Hold statistic is: Matt Capps earned a hold today. Can we just get rid of it now? Please?
- Since his return from the disabled list, Joe Nathan has pitched four innings in four appearances. He's struck out four, walked none, and allowed just one hit. Of course that hit was a home run.
- Luke Hughes did pick up another hit today. Three strikeouts, too.
- Mauer, Cuddyer, Thome, Valencia and Ben Revere all reached base multiple times this afternoon.
Cuddyer, Thome, Valencia, Tosoni, Nathan, Perkins
Blackburn, Capps, Casilla, Nishioka