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News » Minnesota Twins starter Nick Blackburn gets his job done in loss to New York Yankees

Minnesota Twins starter Nick Blackburn gets his job done in loss to New York Yankees

Minnesota Twins starter Nick Blackburn gets his job done in loss to New York Yankees
NEW YORK -- Just when the Twins most needed him, Nick Blackburn pitched like a lion on Saturday. Too bad Mark Teixeira was 100 percent thorn.

Just 10 days after his manager openly criticized his ability to persevere through adversity and deliver much-needed innings, Blackburn did both. And it might have ranked as one of the best outings of his young career, if not for one gargantuan Yankee pain in the ... paw.

"It was pretty exciting to see Blackie throwing like he did," manager Ron Gardenhire said after Blackburn threw a career-high 111 pitches --or roughly one too many to Teixeira, who homered, doubled and singled twice. "He had a hell of a day."

He did, especially because he knew there wasn't much of a bullpen available to help. The situation was similar in Detroit on May 5, but Blackburn let down, lasting only 3 1/3 innings and causing Gardenhire to all but question his toughness. Blackburn responded with seven shutout innings last Sunday against Seattle, then pitched into the eighth inning Saturday against a lineup that has punished him in the past.

"I'm pretty proud of the way things went. I pulled it together and fought through what was going on," Blackburn said. "I was pleased with the fact that I was able to recognize what I was doing wrong and make adjustments."

Blackburn put the first two runners on in the sixth inning with the Twins trailing 3-2 but struck out Alex Rodriguez and got Nick Swisher to ground into a double play. He then cruised through a seven-pitch seventh, and, after allowing an inning-opening double to Hideki Matsui, threw out Derek Jeter on a sacrifice and Johnny Damon on a one-hopper.

Only one out separated him from a potential victory, but on a 1-1 count, Teixeira lined Blackburn's 111th pitch, a fastball up, into right field, tying the score.

"It's frustrating to get those two outs and not be able to get that third one," Blackburn said. "I wanted to keep going out there. I was feeling good on the mound."

Good for Guerrier: Blackburn wasn't the only pitcher with a gritty performance on Saturday. Matt Guerrier got the last out in the eighth, then retired five straight hitters in the ninth and 10th -- and wanted more.

When Gardenhire came out to replace him with Craig Breslow to face lefty Johnny Damon, "I told him I wanted to face the next guy. I told him I could get that guy out."

It was a positive performance for Guerrier after an ugly outing against the Tigers earlier in the week.

With Joe Nathan having pitched four straight days, Gardehnire said Guerrier would have been given a save opportunity in the ninth if the Twins owned a lead.

"I just wanted to throw my best stuff," Guerrier said. "I got beat the other day on a first-pitch fastball, so I was going to stick with my best pitches."

Umpire's call: Minnesota's second-inning rally was cut short by an odd double play. With runners on first and third, Brian Buscher lifted a sacrifice fly into short center field, and Justin Morneau scored easily.

Michael Cuddyer, however, had been running with the pitch, and slid into second base as Brent Gardner made the catch. Cuddyer popped up from his slide, then raced back to first, arriving safely -- or so the Twins thought.

But umpire John Hirschbeck noticed that Cuddyer had come off the base from his slide on the third-base side of the base -- technically making him headed to third. That meant Cuddyer had to touch second base again before running back to first.

He didn't, the Yankees appealed, and Cuddyer was out.

Cuddyer said he didn't notice he was off second base, much less which side of it he was standing on. But Gardenhire said Hirschbeck was certain.

"John said, 'I'm watching. I was looking right at it,' " Gardenhire said. "The umpire's standing there, and he's paying attention to it. I kind of trust Mr. Hirschbeck."

Briefly: Mike Redmond threw out Derek Jeter trying to steal second base in the first inning, his first runner caught this season after 11 successful steals. The throw saved a run, too; two pitches after Jeter was caught, Teixeira doubled.

Morneau and Joe Mauer homered on the same day for the fifth time this season. Mauer has driven in a run in nine straight games, the longest streak in the majors this season.

Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth and 10th innings for the Yankees, his first two-inning outing since last Aug. 16.

The Yankees had not won consecutive games in walk-off fashion since July 30-31, 2005. Alex Rodriguez had not hit a walk-off home run since April 19, 2007.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: May 17, 2009

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