Kubel! (Again)

Game 47: Twins 8 (27-20), Yankees 2 (28-19)

According to WPA, Jason Kubel added about 17% to the chances that the Twins would win on Thursday night. This may be one of those times where the numbers don’t do a player’s actual value justice.

For the second time this season, the Twins went into the final game of a three game series against the Yankees looking to avoid a sweep. For the second time this season, Jason Kubel came out the hero. This time he hit two home runs in his 3-for-4, five RBI, Yankee killing performance.

For his part, Kubel gave a lot of credit, appropriately so, to starting pitcher Nick Blackburn. From LaVelle E. Neal III’s story in the Strib:

“He’s turning into our …” Kubel said, cutting himself off instead of saying ace. “All our guys have done a good job, but he’s stepping up when we really need him to.”

Blackburn allowed two runs on nine hits in seven inning pitched. He was won five consecutive starts.

“He’s going on a nice little run,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “His ball was sinking tonight. He’s not trying to overdo it.”

Thursday wasn’t just any game either. An 8-2 win in the regular season finale against the Yankees was exactly the therapy that this ailing team needed.

WPA Stars of the Game
1. Nick Blackburn
2. Jason Kubel
3. Robinson Cano

AL Central Standings (through Thursday)
1. Min 27-20, 230-184, –
2. Det 25-21, 206-203, 1.5
3. Chi 20-27, 193-223, 7.0
4. KC 20-28, 211, 242, 7.5
5. Cle 17-28, 173-221, 9.0

With the Yankees in the rear view mirror, the Twins open a three-game series against a team they haven’t seen yet in 2010, the Texas Rangers. Kevin Slowey will take the mound against Colby Lewis on Friday night.

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