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Twins 6, Orioles 0: Blackburn Rolls, Offense Rolls With Two Outs

Twins salvage the split.

Nick Blackburn's first inning was a bit sketchy.  He didn't allow a base runner, and he wasn't really missing his spots, but all three outs were on fairly well-hit fly balls.  That's generally not a good sign for a guy who needs to be more of a groundball pitcher, even if Bert does insist that "sinkerballers just need to wear their arms out a little bit".  I wasn't sure how it was going to go.

Turns out, Blackburn was fine.  The man was outstanding, allowing just four hits over seven innings...and two of those hits were infield singles.  He added a pair of walks, but when he missed he never missed up.  Blackburn was consistently low in the zone and worked both sides of the plate.  For a guy who doesn't strike many people out, and he didn't record a single strikeout today, it was about as effective as that guy could be.

It was great to see Joe Mauer back in the lineup again, even as a DH.  He makes this team so much better.  A four-pitch walk after the Twins plated three in the third was probably good for him, just to see a few pitches again.  But it was his two-out knock in the fourth that spoke volumes.  With two out, the Twins had already scored another three runs on four consecutive hits.  Mauer's hard line drive made it five and chased Brian Matusz, who had a hard time keeping balls out of the gap.

Justin Morneau had a rough day.  It's difficult to be too hard on the guy considering A) the Twins still won running away and B) everyone has bad days in baseball, but he was 0-for-4 with four strikeouts.  That looks like Jacque Jones on a Tuesday.  The only other down part of the game was when Denard Span was picked off first base to end the sixth.

Oh yeah, and spread the word:  Wilson Ramos is seriously tied up in knots right now.  The poor guy has pretty much been figured out to a T, and after picking up seven hits in his first two games has gone 1-for-18 since.  There's no question he's a talent, but there's still some work that needs to be done, clearly.

On the plus side, Denard had a great day other than the one mistake.  His two-run triple scored Brendan Harris (who picked up three hits today, by the way) and Alexi Casilla to give the Twins their first lead.  Add a stolen base and two more hits, and all-in-all it was a great bouceback for Span after he went 0-for-8 yesterday.  Casilla came up with a couple of big hits too, with a big hit in the aforementioned third and a big double in the fourth.  Even Nick Punto got in on the action, picking up two hits and a pair of runs batted in.  Harris, Casilla, Span and Punto (8-9-1-2 in the lineup) were 8-for-15 today; the rest of the order went 2-for-19 with a walk.

Harris got the start at short today with J.J. Hardy still out, and with Orlando Hudson's shoulder a bit sore from a nice diving play yesterday Casilla started at second.  It wasn't just the bottom of the order getting the job done today, it was the bench at the bottom of the order.

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#3:  Alexi Casilla  (2-for-4, 2B, RBI, 2 R, .111 WPA)
#2:  Denard Span  (3-for-4, 3B, 3 RBI, 2 R, .184 WPA)
#1:  Nick Blackburn  (7 IP, 4 H, 0 K, 2 BB, 0 R, .257 WPA)

#1:  Justin Morneau  (0-for-4, 4 K, -.047 WPA)
#2:  Wilson Ramos  (0-for-4, -.022 WPA)
#3:  Delmon Young  (0-for-4, K, -.032 WPA)