At 7:10 PM, when Twins starter Nick Blackburn took the hill, things were good. The weather was nice, the crowd was in good spirits, and I'm sure his mind was filled with positive thoughts.
Seven pitches later, it had all turned to crap.
Well, not the weather; the weather was still nice, but after a Desmond Jennings leadoff single and back-to-back homers by B.J. Upton and Matt Joyce, his night was not so much.
Upton's homer was a blast to left center, Joyce's was over the tall wall in right. But, Upton wasn't done there. Clearly inspired by Evan Longoria's 0-for-4, 2K performance, Upton took Blackburn deep again in the fifth inning. This time, to dead center on a 3-2 pitch. How dead center was it? Like Robin Hood in Men in Tights, it was dead, D-E-D, dead.
Upton wasn't perfect, however, as he failed to GTMI with Ryan Roberts on third with one out in the seventh. But, it's OK! David Price was on the mound tonight, ready to give the Twins some of that hardcore DP action.
Yeah, more on that after the jump...
The Velociraptor Jesus pitched seven innings yet again and earned his 15th win of the season. His line: 7IP, 2ER, 7H, 0BB, 5K. He induced just two swinging strikes on 101 pitches, but that's not to say his stuff wasn't nasty. All five of his strikeouts were of the backwards variety. He did a heckuva job driving the fastball in on the righties and spotting the backdoor cutter away.
While the cutter is an ever-improving pitch for Price, there will be those hiccups. Shortstop Brian Dozier, he of the .327 SLG and .091 ISO, got hold of a 'hung' cutter in the fifth and hit a wall-scraping solo-shot to give the Twins their second and final run of the night. That's the cutter for you. When thrown correctly: a pitch that can make a MLB superstar give up on strike three. When left three more inches over the plate: Brian Dozier makes you his bitch.
Not that anyone's really complaining about Price. It's all just nitpicking during this stretch of ten straight Quality Starts. Why are Quality Starts important? I don't know, but they're a stat in my keeper league where I have Price, so that's enough for me. Refine that cutter, and Price will be a Master P: No Limit to his potential.
- Brian Dozier also blew a few tags on Ben Zobrist in the sixth. Zorilla was stretching a single off the right field wall into a double and the throw back to second had him by a mile, but Dozier couldn't handle the throw. Then, Pena lined the heck out of the ball to right (he's do that twice tonight) and the Twins had a shot to double off Zobrist, but Dozier, again, couldn't hang on. Why is this important? Gotta talk bad about the opponent who made the headline.
- Speaking of Ben Zobrist: The BEN ZOBRIST SHORTSTOP WATCH was in full effect for the third night in a row. He made a few routine plays in she six spot tonight. He started a double play, assisted in another, and made a few throws on the run. His most impressive play on the night was actually on a hit. Zobrist made a great diving stop on a Justin Morneau grounder in the hole in the seventh and made a strong throw to first that Morneau just beat out. It was a nice display of athleticism from a guy who I think we'd all like to see fill in a weak hitting position.
- That being said: Elliot Johnson entered in the ninth as a defensive replacement for Jeff Keppinger. EJ played short, moving Zobrist to second, and Roberts to third. EJ made a great diving play on a Joe Mauer grounder up the middle that I thought was a sure hit. I don't know if Zobrist makes that play, but it was nice to see Elliot flash some leather either way.
- Let's not forget about Matt Joyce and Reading with the Rays. Reminding us that comma placement is important.
- The Rays look to make it six in a row and two straight series sweeps as James Shields takes on Scott Diamond tomorrow @ 2:10 PM.