Twins' power show masks flaw

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 4, 2012 - 5:03 AM

The Twins won their fifth in a row as Josh Willingham and Trevor Plouffe supplied the fireworks, but Nick Blackburn's troubles continued.

view larger photos


DETROIT - The Josh Willingham and Trevor Plouffe Show continued Tuesday night, which was a good thing for Twins fans, who had to sit through another airing of that Nick Blackburn horror flick.

Blackburn turned in another dismal performance, leaving his future in the rotation uncertain, but Willingham and Plouffe did enough damage to lead the Twins over the Tigers 8-6 at Comerica Park.

"We'll talk about [Blackburn's status] over the next day or so, figure out what we're going to do, but tonight we're going to talk about the game," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Huge win by our baseball team."

The Twins are riding a season-long five-game winning streak, with Willingham and Plouffe providing a nice distraction from the team's season-long story line of woeful starting pitching.

When "the Hammer" or "Babe Plouffe" homers, the other can't seem to help himself. They are turning the race for the team's home run lead into a summer thriller.

Over the past month, they have homered in the same game six times. It has happened seven times on the same day, including Saturday's doubleheader against the Royals, when Plouffe homered in Game 1 and Willingham answered in Game 2.

Fun fact: In their legendary home run race in 1961, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris homered on the same day 14 times.

In the latest shootout at Comerica Park, Willingham and Plouffe both drilled two-run homers to left field in the third inning. Those homers gave the Twins a 6-3 lead, but the Tigers answered with homers in the fourth by Brennan Boesch and Austin Jackson to tie the score.

The game turned into a battle of bullpens, and Ryan Doumit finally put the Twins back in front with a sacrifice fly in the seventh. Joe Mauer added an insurance run in the ninth when he connected for his fifth home run.

Jeff Gray (5-0) pitched two innings to get the win, and after some impressive setup work by rookies Kyle Waldrop and Tyler Robertson, Glen Perkins pitched the ninth for his fourth save. It was Perkins' fourth appearance in as many days.

Blackburn has become another big dilemma for the Twins. Earlier Tuesday, they optioned Liam Hendriks back to Class AAA Rochester with his ERA at 7.04, and recalled Cole De Vries.

Now, Blackburn has an 8.10 ERA. He lasted only four innings in this start, giving up six runs on eight hits.

He still has a minor league option remaining and has fewer than five years of major league service time, so the Twins can still send him down. They demoted him to Rochester in July 2010, so it wouldn't be the first time.

"I haven't had maybe one good outing this year, and it's beyond me at this point," said Blackburn, who is 21-27 with a 5.51 ERA since signing a four-year, $14 million extension in 2010. "I go in every game with confidence because I feel like I have the stuff to compete, and I'm just not. It's not a whole lot of fun."

After waiting through a 90-minute rain delay, Blackburn fell behind 3-1 in the second inning before the Twins came back with five runs in the third. Willingham moved into a tie for the team lead with his 18th home run that inning, but two batters later, Plouffe smashed his 19th.

Another fun fact: Michael Cuddyer led the Twins in home runs last year ... with 20.

"I don't know what's going on with the water in the clubhouse, but Mauer's drinking it now, too," Perkins said. "It's fun to watch."


    Up next: 6:05 tonight at Detroit • TV: FSN (1500-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
Detroit «00100002X340
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:D.Price(15-12) L:K.Gibson(13-12) S:J.Nathan (35)
HR: MIN- None DET- I.Kinsler (17)


San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 7 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 1
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Houston 85 FINAL
Miami 90
Indiana 89 FINAL
Minnesota 107
Utah 105 FINAL
Oklahoma City 91
Portland 93 FINAL
Denver 75
Phoenix 114 FINAL
LA Lakers 108
LA Clippers 107 FINAL
Golden State 125
San Jose 3 FINAL
Boston 5
NY Rangers 4 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 3
Toronto 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Detroit 1 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 2
Arizona 3 FINAL(SO)
Nashville 4
Carolina 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 3
Philadelphia 0 FINAL
Chicago 4
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Dallas 6
Florida 4 FINAL(OT)
Colorado 3
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL(OT)
Calgary 1
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Are you happy to see the Royals in the World Series?

Weekly Question