It seemed it would be yet another short night (literally) and long night (figuratively) for Nick Blackburn on Friday. Lo and behold, he did what has been so difficult for Twins starters recently: he recovered and managed to pitch seven strong innings. After serving up two homers and allowing another run on an errant throw by Michael Cuddyer to put the Twins in a 3-0 hole after three innings, Blackburn rebounded with 4 additional scoreless frames.
The Twins took full advantage of the opportunity, scoring three runs in the sixth after previously looking listless at the plate. The final run of that inning came in when Denard Span yanked a ball into the right field corner, which apparently is akin to the Bermuda Triangle in Kansas City. Josh Anderson misplayed it, bobbled it, and then had it fly sideways out of his hand on his throw, giving Span the chance to gallop all the way around the bases.
In the eighth, the Twins broke through against Kyle Farnsworth for the lead, and seemed poised for victory when Joe Nathan trotted out to the mound for the ninth. [As a side note, I'm wondering why Jesse Crain was warming up immediately after Nathan entered the game.] After getting the first two batters out, though, he surrendered a two-strike homer to pinch-hitter Bryan Pena, which forced the teams to play some extra baseball.
It was only a little extra, however, as Orlando Cabrera drove home Alexi Casilla with an RBI triple of his own that Willie Bloomquist, who had taken over in right field, misplayed. Nathan came out to finish the game, and really had us on the edge of our seats in an excruciatingly long half-inning. In the end he sealed the deal (on his second chance), but only after tossing 53 total pitches, a single-game high for his Twins career.
In other news, LaVelle has just tweeted that Armando Gabino has been called up to start on Tuesday, in place of Anthony Swarzak. I don't know what bearing this has on the rest of the season, if any, but it seems as if the Twins are on a mission to bring up every starter from AAA to the big leagues just to say they were there. I'm only half-kidding, as there seems to be little rhyme or reason to who they call up and when they do it. That's not to bash Gabino, as he's pitching very well, but I just don't see a plan behind what they've been doing with their promotions and demotions.