By Joe Christensen
MILWAUKEE — The Twins activated Denard Span from the 15-day disabled list after tonight’s 4-3 loss to Milwaukee and optioned outfielder Jason Pridie back to Class AAA Rochester. Span had been out with an inner-ear infection.
NOTES FROM A QUIET CLUBHOUSE
Nick Blackburn became the first Twins pitcher to throw back-to-back complete games since Brad Radke did it on June 19, 1998 and June 25, 1998. Before his complete game against Pittsburgh last week, Blackburn had zero complete games for his big league career.
He entered the ninth inning with 84 pitches. By the time Jason Kendall stepped in, Blackburn’s pitch count was at 93. The game-time temperature was 92 degrees. Blackburn had to bat four times, going 0-for-4 at the plate, including an eighth-inning strikeout.
Asked about pitching in the heat on a night he also had to bat, Blackburn said, “It’s weird, I thought I’d thrown a lot more pitches than that. Because usually when you’re out there, especially in the Dome, they don’t sneak up on you like that. I looked up and I think I was at 75 pitches in the seventh inning, which really surprised me. I thought it was 80 or 90-plus. I felt a little more tired, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for me. It kind of helps me stay back at times, get on top of the ball better.”
No matter how you slice it, Blackburn was cruising. He got two quick outs before J.J. Hardy hit his bloop single to center.
Then came Jason Kendall, who has a .279 slugging percentage. That’s lower than several pitchers, including Jeff Suppan, Adam Wainwright, Max Scherzer and Micah Owings. The Twins had Matt Guerrier warming, but Manager Ron Gardenhire said he gave no thought to pulling Blackburn.
“You can’t really seriously think we’re supposed to take him out,” Gardenhire said. “Don’t even go there. You can’t take Blacky out there; that’s a joke. Don’t even ask that question. Blacky’s in complete control of the baseball game.”
Blackburn said Kendall hit his one “really bad pitch of the night.” The ball sailed high off the left-center field wall. Asked if he thought it was going out, Kendall scoffed saying, “I don’t hit home runs.”
He’s right, he hasn’t hit one all season. I detailed the wild and crazy play in my game story. Brendan Harris and Blackburn were both charged with errors, as both runners scored.
Harris said, “You can chalk that up — a double in the gap and that kind of play — as probably the last thing I expected.”
Asked how the team was taking the loss, Jason Kubel said, “I think we’ll be alright. I think it’s one of those things where nobody can really believe it happened.”