On a night when the Twins needed Nick Blackburn to be solid, he more than delivered, going 6 2/3 innings, only giving up 1 ER to a powerful Boston lineup. Glen Perkins would come in and only allow one more run, setting the table for Joe Nathan to close it out and solidify his place in Twins' history as the all-time saves leader, with 255 saves. Tonight's win stopped the Twins from being swept twice in a row at home, as well as breaking a 6 game losing streak. Everyone's happy.
Minnesota scored in the bottom of the first inning, after Blackburn had a harmless top of the inning, on a Jim Thome base hit to center field that scored Joe Mauer from second base. The inning had started with another baserunner, but Ben Revere was caught stealing and picked off at second base. This was pretty much the extent of anything exciting happening until the top of the 5th inning, when Delmon Young made a catch to end the inning. The look on his face...it was priceless, I tell you. He genuinely looked surprised that he had caught the ball in his glove. If nothing else, the man has given us many meme-worthy moments this season.
Full recap, notes, and studs & duds after the jump.
Fast forward to the bottom of the 6th inning, when an interesting (but correct) call was made by the umpires. Ben Revere was walked by Jon Lester with one out, and after Joe Mauer doubled down the left field line, Ben flew around the bases to score from first. The only problem? A fan had grabbed the ball after it bounced in fair territory. The umpires talked with Terry Francona, who initially came out to argue that Revere should be at third base and that Mauer's hit should be ruled a ground-rule double, and it was decided that because the ball had never bounced into the stands, it was officially called fan interference instead of the GR double. An interesting rule, but in the end, Revere's run counted and all was well.
It was the top of the seventh inning when Boston would finally get on the board. With Nick Blackburn sitting at 93 pitches to start the inning, his time was probably already limited in the inning, but after Trevor Plouffe fumbled what should have been the third out, Marco Scutaro hit one into right-center, scoring the runner at second. Twins: 2, Red Sox: 1. It felt like the momentum had changed, but before Adrian Gonzalez, one of the game's most dangerous hitters, could face Blackburn again, Gardy replaced him with Glen Perkins, who coaxed A-Gonz into hitting a deep fly out to right field. Inning (and threat) over for the time being. In the bottom of the seventh, Ben Revere was faced with a 2 out, bases loaded situation and ended up grounding out to first base. Exciting.
Perk came back in to face Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, and Carl Crawford in the top of the eighth inning. He managed to strike Youk out, but Big Papi had other plans and hit a home run to center field off of Perkins, tying the game at 2. It was Glen's first HR allowed on the year, if you can believe that. After Ortiz' home run, Perk settled down and struck out Dustin Pedroia, who came in to pinch hit, and got Mike Aviles to ground out to first base to end the inning.
After Jon Lester walked Joe Mauer in the bottom of the eighth inning, he was pulled and replaced by Alfredo Aceves. The Twins lineup really enjoyed this move, as they managed to score 3 runs off of Aceves in the bottom of the inning. This is how the scoring happened: Mauer walked, Cuddyer groundout, Mauer to second base. Jim Thome doubled (and is replaced by pinch runner Jason Repko), scoring Mauer. Danny Valencia then doubled down the left field line, scoring Repko. Delmon Young was then intentionally walked (Boston fears the Demon), leaving Aceves to face Matt Tolbert, pinch hitter extraordinaire. Tolbert miraculously doubled off the right field wall, leaving the bases loaded for Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Nishi managed a base hit, scoring Danny Valencia, and the Twins got their second out of the inning when Delmon was thrown out at home (still unsure as to why he was sent here, but okay). Boston decided they'd seen enough of Aceves for the night, and replaced him with Andrew Miller, who Dick Bremer described as a "left-handed Jim Hoey", so take that as you will. Miller promptly walked Denard Span on four pitches, loading the bases for Ben Revere, who again managed to not get a hit in a clutch situation.
The top of the ninth inning saw Joe Nathan replace Glen Perkins, going for his 255th save as a Minnesota Twin, securing him the spot as the team's save leader. It was pretty exciting, and for all the ups-and-downs, a pretty special moment for someone who's been excellent for the team for a long time. Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Aviles, and Marco Scutaro were the victims tonight, as Nathan sent them down in order to get the win and stop the Twins' losing streak. For some reason, MLB does not have Nathan's save as a video highlight yet, but you can watch Thome set him up for the save here.
-Justin Morneau will actually be joining the team for Friday's game in Cleveland. No matter how this season plays out, it's always good to see him with the team, and he's been tearing it up in AAA during his rehab, so be even more excited for his return.
-Alexi Casilla is also slated to return to the team on Friday. I assume we can say goodbye to Trevor Plouffe again.
-Nick Blackburn. Stepped up big time tonight. Good for Blackie.
-Jim Thome. The big man was 2-for-4 tonight with 2 RBIs and a double. You cannot NOT love the man. It's illegal.
-Delmon Young. Yeah, I know, right? Demon went 2-2, and walked twice. Amazing.
-Joe Mauer. Baby Joesus doing his thing. 1-for-2, 2 runs scored, 2 walks, and an RBI. No big deal.
-Joe Nathan, obviously. Need I say more?
-Trevor Plouffe. GIDP, error, strike out. Not good.
-Ben Revere. 2 bases loaded situations and not one run? Yikes. Also, that getting caught stealing thing isn't good.
Off day tomorrow...try not to be too bored waiting for Twins baseball to return!