By La Velle
Based on how the pitch counts soared in the early innings, I expected to see a reliever enter the game by the sixth. But both starting pitchers manged to get to the seventh. Nick Blackburn allowed five baserunners over the first two innings but pulled himself together and retired the last 12 Tigers hitters he faced.
Blackburn has struggled to make in-game adjustments at times this year, but not on Tuesday. His breaking ball was a big weapon for him as the game went on and his sinker helped him get 11 ground ball outs. He hasn’t had that many in a game since July 10.
He threw 111 pitches, tying a season high – but he hadn’t thrown that many since May.
The Twins expected Blackburn to take a step forward this season. That step took awhile to come. He’s 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA in his last three outings, all coming when the Twins need them the most.
Boy, can Denard Span and Carlos Gomez cover some ground when they are on the field together. Both made excellent running catches late in the game.
Michael Cuddyer made a nice play in the third to throw Clete Thomas out at home on a play that’s a little more than routine.
I’m not opposed to using the bunt as a weapon. I’m not big on doing it early in games. And I’m not a fan of bunting people from second to third, either. Managers have their own style, and Ron Gardenhire elected to bunt five times in Game 1.
It’s a good debate. Should Gardy not give away so many outs? My read: Gardy looked at how the game was going and decided to move the runners over. You also have to remember all the times he lets these guys swing away or move runners over on their own and watched it backfire.
He decided to be more hands on today.
Everyone is/will be talking about the failed suicide squeeze in the ninth. It’s the hitter’s job there to get the bunt down no matter what. But the toughest pitch to bunt is that one that’s up and in. Punto was put in a tough spot with Alexi Casilla tearing down the line.
I’m curious to know if Detroit expected that play, leading to the pitch selection.
“That’s where you want to throw it if you smell something,” Gardy said during the part of the post game presser that FSN showed
(Note to FSN: They were just starting to break down the squeeze play when you cut to the dueling hair stylists in the studio. Shame on you!).
I can see why Gardy took a shot. If the Twins get a clutch hit or two earlier in the game, he might not have to make that decision later.
Anyway, let’s get ready for Game 2. I’m appearing on Dan Barreiro’s show on KFAN around 3:20 to break down the game some more, if you want to tune in….