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Twins Drop Finale to Orioles

Twins 1, Orioles 5

Well, that didn't go as planned.  It means the Twins couldn't take advantage of losses by both Chicago and Detroit, but the good news is that at least no ground was lost.  The deficit remains four-and-a-half games.

Nick Blackburn wasn't horrible, coming within one out of tallying a quality start, but he was charged with four runs on the night.  He threw strikes, but everything was hittable and the Orioles put the Twins in an early 2-0 hole with early by combining singles and a timely ground out.

Felix "Apple" Pie homered in the fourth, his fifth shot of the year, and the shot to center put Baltimore up 3-0.  When Justin Morneau doubled in the bottom half of the inning, scoring Joe Mauer from first (he can really move when he wants to), it finally put the Twins on the board.  But it was as close as they'd get.

Blackburn surrendered another run in the sixth, and while it was Jeff Manship's runner that scored in the eighth it was Matt Guerrier who walked him in.  Which is just a little maddening.

The Twins faced a number of bases-loaded situations from the Orioles, so to be fair this game could have been much more out of hand than it turned out to be.  A force out at the plate in the eighth kept Baltimore at five, but the defensive highlights on Wednesday belonged to Alexi Casilla.

With two out in the fourth and a runner on first, Casilla sprinted to his right on a bouncing grounder, dove for it and with a backhanded flip from his glove had just enough on the ball to get it to Orlando Cabrera, who covered second base for the out.  The second time came after the force out at home in the eighth.  Once again Casilla ranged to his right, had to dive for another fast grounder, but this time had just enough time to flip the ball to Cabrera at second without resorting to the glove-toss.  Both of these plays showed Casilla at his best--a quick defender who can flash some range if he's attentive and positioned correctly, and he's athletic enough to make these kind of plays on a nightly basis.

On the other hand, Morneau couldn't handle a throw from Cabrera earlier in the game, leading to a pair of Baltimore runs.  But we already know this wasn't a good game for most of the boys.

The Twins didn't win, and so couldn't extend their season-long five-game winning streak, but at least the damage was limited by losses from the Tigers and White Sox.  Thursday is an off-day, and then the Rangers come to town Friday for a three-game weekend set.  Chicago is in action against Boston however, so keep an eye on that game tonight.  Head over to Over the Monster to support the Red Sox for a night.

Stars of the Game
#3:  Alexi Casilla  (0-for-3, two good defensive plays)
#2:  Denard Span  (1-for-3, BB, .027 WPA)
#1:  Justin Morneau  (1-for-4, 2B, RBI, .043 WPA)

Tears for You
#1:  Nick Blackburn  (5.2 IP, 9 H, 0 K, 2 BB, 4 R, -.135 WPA)
#2:  Jeff Manship  (1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 R, .015 WPA)
#3:  Matt Guerrier  (Walked in the run charged to Maship)