To use the words of fischean: One. 1. Uno.
If you wanted intense, hard-fought baseball, you got it. If you wanted big moments, pivotal mistakes and a fantastic pitcher's duel, you got that, too. Did you want a Twins win? Granted.
Nick Blackburn struggled through the first four innings, allowing the leadoff hitter to reach three of the four innings with two of those hits being a double. Yet every time the Tigers pushed, Nick pushed back. Eight base runners through the first four innings garnered the home team just a solitary run, thanks to some nice defense (a diving Orlando Cabrera and a scoop by
Justin Morneau Michael Cuddyer) and a great play (Cuddyer to home, Joe Mauer blocking the plate and applying the tag).
Once Nick escaped the fourth, he sent down all nine hitters through his final three innings. Blackburn settled in and turned into the big game pitcher we needed him to be.
Down 0-1 in the top of the fifth the Twins finally managed to even the score, which may have helped to take the pressure off Blackburn a little bit. Matt Tolbert led off the inning with a double, earning him his new monicker: Tol-Bear. It's French. Nick Punto then attempted his first bunt of the game, a beauty, advancing Tol-Bear to third and nearly running out the throw to first himself. Denard Span-crush then allowed Tol-Beart to tag from third to knot the score.
The Twins threatened again in the top of the ninth before managing to momentarily delay the win. Alexi Casilla doubled to lead off the inning before Tol-Bear dropped down a great bunt to move him to third base. Gardy then called up the ol' squeeze play, and with Casilla already in full sprint Punto was forced to attempt a first-pitch bunt on a ball almost over his head. Popped up, Casilla doubled off third, tear off clothes gnash teeth and generally implode all over the television set.
Enter Jon Rauch being awesome, Span getting a base hit to lead off the tenth. Cue Orlando Cabrera not ending an inning but in fact giving the Twins the lead after Span advances on a wild pitch. Twice. Joe Mauer walking, Carlos Gomez putting down another successful Minnesota bunt and Delmon Young, oh yes Delmon Young, launching a ball in a lofty nature designed to score a sacrifice run. 3-1, Twins.
Of course Joe Nathan managed to make in interesting, allowing Curtis Granderson to smash a bomb before recording an out. But he locked it down and recorded save number 45, tying Eddie Guardado for the team record.
It's all down to one, for just a few hours. Next game in just over three hours, so relax now. While you can.
Stars of the Game
#3: Orlando Cabrera (1-for-5, BIG RBI, .118 WPA)
#2: Alexi Casilla (1-for-2, BIG DOUBLE, .149 WPA)
#1: Nick Blackburn (7 IP, 4 K, 6 H, 1 BB, 1 R, .321 WPA)