One thing this season has lacked so far is late-inning drama. Prior to Tuesday night’s game, eight of the Twins’ 17 wins had come by five or more runs. That fact made the 4-3 win over the Tigers stand out even more. All week we have been hearing how the Denard Span non-catch last week was the play that turned things around for the Tigers. Hopefully now it can be said that J.J. Hardy and Nick Blackburn worked together to turn the Tigers’ season back towards a second-place finish.
The craft of pitching was on display most of the night from Nick Blackburn. His sinker was forcing the Tigers to pound the ball into the ground – most of the time harmlessly into an infielder’s glove. There were a few exceptions, but overall Blackburn looked as good as can be expected given the circumstances surrounding the start and the talent of the hitters on the opposing team.
It might have all been overshadowed by J.J. Hardy, however, who should have notified the baseball cliche police that he would be making a great defensive play in the top half of the ninth before getting the big hit in the bottom half. He may have given the FSN crew the opportunity to repeat an old baseball trusim, but he also gave the Twins a series win over the Tigers.
The win came just after some welcome news on the injury front. Joe Mauer’s heel bruise will not require a trip to the DL. He may see action as soon as today, though smart money is on this weekend’s series with the Orioles.
WPA Stars of the Game
1. J.J. Hardy
2. Nick Blackburn
3. Brennan Boesch
AL Central Standings (through Tuesday)
Min 18-9, 144-102, –
Det 16-12, 135-130, 2.5
Chi 11-16, 109-137, 7.0
KC 11-16, 111-139, 7.0
Cle 10-16, 91-129, 7.5
Kevin Slowey and Rick Porcello match up for Wednesday’s series finale.