DETROIT -- While lamenting Nick Blackburn's reluctance to throw off-speed pitches Saturday, Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson pointed to the success Carl Pavano is having adding and subtracting, keeping hitters off balance.
The Twins are gasping for air heading into the final game before the All-Star break. They need the mustached Pavano to do what he did most of the first half. A win today would send everybody home feeling a lot better about themselves. A loss would leave them five games behind the Tigers.
Interesting to note that Detroit strategically picked rookie LHP Andrew Oliver for this start. It would have been RHP Armando Galarraga's day to pitch, but the Tigers sent him to Class AAA Toledo until after the break. Oliver allowed five runs (two earned) in a 5-1 loss to the Twins on June 30, but the Tigers like challenging the Twins with a lefthander.
The Twins are 16-14 against lefthanded starters, but they lost the final two games in Toronto last week in games started by lefties Marc Rzepczynski and Brett Cecil.
Updates to come...
Update: On his Sunday morning radio show (ESPN 1500), Manager Ron Gardenhire said Joe Mauer will not be in the starting lineup today. Gardenhire said Mauer saw a doctor after Saturday's game and has a sore shoulder from taking so many foul tips. Mauer also is taking anti-inflammatory medication. He's available to pinch hit late in the game and will play in the All-Star Game, Gardenhire said.
"It’s part of the position," Mauer said. "I’m just a little beat up, that’s about it. I don’t even really like talking about all this stuff. I’m kind of surprised it’s out there, but I got checked out [by the doctor] and we’re trying to get it healthy."
Update: Nick Blackburn will remain in the rotation for now. Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson met with Blackburn this morning to see how he's doing mentally.
"The only reason I would take him out of this rotation is if he’s lost confidence in his own ability," Gardenhire said. "We have confidence in him getting people out. We’ve seen him get people out. ... He understands. He wants the ball; that’s what we want to hear from him.
"He knows he can pitch. He’s frustrated just like everybody else. We’ve got a few of those guys. But going to make wholesale changes on guys we put our stock into, I don’t know about that. Sure [Brian] Duensing’s sitting there waiting, but it’s going to take time to get Duensing ready to be in the rotation."
Update: Twins prospect Aaron Hicks was placed on the DL at Class A Beloit today with a sprained right wrist. Hicks injured himself diving for a ball on July 7. He had an X-ray and a CT Scan. "We'll know more Monday if he has to come to the Twin Cities to see the hand specialist [Dr. Thomas Varecka]," said Twins minor league director Jim Rantz.
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Orlando Hudson, 2B
3. Delmon Young, LF
4. Jim Thome, DH
5. Michael Cuddyer, 1B
6. Jason Kubel, RF
7. Danny Valencia, 3B
8. Nick Punto, SS
9. Drew Butera, C
Starting pitcher: RH Carl Pavano (9-6, 3.58 ERA)
1. Austin Jackson, CF
2. Johnny Damon, DH
3. Magglio Ordonez, RF
4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
5. Brennan Boesch, LF
6. Carlos Guillen, 2B
7. Brandon Inge, 3B
8. Alex Avila, C
9. Ramon Santiago, SS
Starting pitcher: LH Andrew Oliver (0-2, 5.93 ERA)
Comerica Park. First pitch: 12:05 p.m. (Central). TV: Ch. 29 (WFTC). Twins Radio Network