Maybe it's just having Ozzie Guillen in the opposing dugout, but something about playing the White Sox turns the Twins into the "Piranhas" of old. Minnesota took advantage of nearly every opportunity they had, while the White Sox put runners on base throughout the night but couldn't plate any of them. In fact, Nick Blackburn gave up at least one hit in innings 2 through 7, but each of the eight hits were singles, and Blackburn pitched around every one of them.
Meanwhile, the Twins were scoring runs largely thanks to clutch hitting. Minnesota got single runs in the first, second, and fifth innings, banging out just one hit in each inning but getting a run home anyway. In the first, it was Orlando Cabrera tripling and scoring on a passed ball. In the second, the Twins sandwiched three walks around a single. In the fifth, Cabrera ended up on second after an error, and scored on a Michael Cuddyer single.
Perhaps the best example came in the sixth inning; the .222-hitting Matt Tolbert singled, went to second on a wild pitch (after about fourteen throws to first), then scored on a single by the .232-hitting Nick Punto. Punto then went to second on a hit batsman, stole third, and came home on a Cabrera sacrifice fly.
At that point, Minnesota led 5-0, and with Blackburn pitching out of jams (and the Sox unable to get a meaningful hit), the Twins could coast to victory.
Detroit was off, of course, meaning that Minnesota moves to two and a half games back in the AL Central race.
The three stars for Monday night's game:
3. Orlando Cabrera
The shortstop ws 2-4, scored three times (once after reaching on an error), and drove in two other runs.
2. Nick Punto
Yes, Nick Punto. He reached base all four times he batted, singling twice, walking twice, scoring twice, and stealing two bases. He also drove in a run, and will probably mop the clubhouse and drive the team bus back to the hotel.
1. Nick Blackburn
I made fun of him before the game, but he was nothing but great, scattering eight hits over seven innings, walking nobody, and striking out six. Beautiful, is all. Bravo, Mr. Blackburn.
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