I went to see the Twins at Comerica Park yesterday 5/16/12. It says something about the poorness of this team that through yesterday’s game, I had attended 5.5% of their games this season (just 2) and seen close to 20% of their victories (also 2)! Wednesday night’s game was one of the strangest and most compelling games I have ever been to, so I felt compelled to report.
First off, if you haven’t been to Comerica Park, it is a pretty great stadium, nice layout, good views all round. Never let anyone hear you say Tigers owner Mike Illitch is not a savvy businessman. The Tigers fans are slowly paying off Price Fielder’s fat $190 million contract, one extra dollar on all concessions this season at a time.
The Tigers defense was absolutely awful, their entire infield committing errors in the first 3 innings of the game. Combined with some timely hitting, this spotted the Twins to a 2-1 lead after one. In the top of the second Brian Dozier crushed a Rick Porcello pitch into the left field seats for a three run HR. At that point I couldn’t help myself, 35 games of 2012 season misery briefly washed away for me in a split second; I stood up and applauded loudly. My celebration was greeted with the kind of reaction you might expect and it totally deserved, I was quickly back in my seat, but I couldn’t help feeling good. The Twins (and Tigers ineptitude) had spotted Blackburn to a 5-1 lead. Surely with the pressure off, even against a powerful lineup, he could make this a quality start. Wrong. I mean dead wrong.
Not only did Blackburn surrender his lead, he gave it up, in the very next half inning as Detroit plated 5 runs on a walk, five straight singles and a sac fly. I was mortified. Blackburn has always been someone I have struggled to like. It seemed that he always went through brief periods of competence followed by long stretched of ineptitude. His 8.37 ERA and 1.77 WHIP this season says it all. Blackburn’s post-game thoughts were the final nail in his coffin for me. ‘They weren’t crushing balls, I was still making fairly quality pitches, they were just able to do whatever they had to do, that’s a good lineup over there’. That sounds like a long expiring list of excuses to me. Firstly, I don’t agree with the notion of a fairly quality pitch. Even if it boils down to good hitting, a pitch that doesn’t result in an out isn’t a quality enough pitch. I wish Blackburn would take some responsibility for his performance; his ‘they have a good lineup’ line just doesn’t cut it in the big leagues. There are (in my estimation) currently 10 good AL hitting lineups. For want of a better expression, ‘give it a rest Blackburn’! In 5 of his last 7 starts he has given up 5 ER or more, in his last 7 starts he has gone 6 innings or more just 3 times, currently he is simply not good enough for a major league roster. To compound his abject performance, Jeff Gray relieved him in the 3rd and got through 2 scoreless innings in 12 pitches, before giving up 1 ER to the heart of the Tigers lineup and inducing 4 ground balls among his 7 outs, exactly Blackburn’s MO.
I did have a Trevor Plouffe hitting .100 watch planned for my blog but the last two games he has made me eat my words, long may his mini-hot streak continue. Jokes aside, is was great to see the Twins play good fundamental baseball and get consistent excellence from their bullpen for a good win, even against a poor performance from the Tigers.