We attended a townball game on Friday in Jordan, which some of you are probably sick of hearing about if you follow Twitter as well. It was a veritable who's who of local bloggers and media types (OK, there were maybe like four of us who fit that description), but a good time was had by all. They sold a 12 pack of Coors Light at the concession stand for $20. How can you go wrong?
In any event, the upshot was a bunch of people who knew way too much about recent bad Twins baseball, which somehow led to a search on multiple smartphones ... which led to a box score from a 1-0 Twins victory over the White Sox from June 16, 2011.
Mind you, this was barely two years ago. But we found no fewer than FIVE amazing things in this simple box score.
1. First and foremost, it was the only game in Twins history in which Tsuyoshi Nishioka batted third. Think about that with what you know now about how the whole Nishi experiment went down. One of the worst hitters, albeit briefly, in their history once occupied the No. 3 spot in the order. And it was in his home debut, no less, a couple months after breaking his leg early on in a road game.
2. Look closely at that starting lineup: 1. Ben Revere (CF); 2. Alexi Casilla (2B); 3. Nishioka (SS); 4. Michael Cuddyer (RF); 5. Delmon Young (DH); 6. Luke Hughes (1B); 7. Danny Valencia (3B): 8. Rene Rivera (C); 9. Jason Repko (LF). Not only is this probably one of the weakest lineups in team history, not a single one of these nine players is still with the organization.
3. Starting pitcher Nick Blackburn threw eight shutout innings, and Matt Capps struck out two in a scoreless ninth for the save. This was part of a 10-start stretch in May and June in which Blackburn was 5-1 with a 2.35 ERA. Don't forget about this as Blackburn continues to try to come back this season, and the Twins try to figure out if they can squeeze anything out of the $5 million-plus they are paying him.
4. The game was played in 2 hours, 9 minutes, thanks to very few hits (Cuddyer's home run accounted for the only run) plus the swift work of Blackburn and the always fast Mark Buehrle. The fastest Twins game this season, by comparison, clocked in at 2:26.
5. We remember 2011 as being the beginning of the down years for the Twins, but that win on June 16 was actually part of an eight-game winning streak and a 15-2 overall stretch. It helped the Twins remain respectable for much of the year -- they were just six games out of first in the AL Central at 50-56 in late July before going 13-43 the rest of the way.