La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Twins-Sox: Big start for Blackburn

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: July 18, 2010 - 11:37 AM


This is the first of two critical days for the Twins starting rotation.
Nick Blackburn, with a 10.00 ERA over his last eight starts, goes today against the White Sox as the Twins try to take three of four from Chicago.
On Monday, righthander Scott Baker will start after being moved to the end of the rotation with tendinitis in his elbow. As much as Blackburn needs to get going, the Twins really need Baker to be healthy and pitch like the person who won 15 last season.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, on his weekly radio show on KSTP, said there has been talk of calling up Class AAA Rochester closer Anthony Slama. ``Eventually, we'll try to get him up here,'' Gardenhire said. It shouldn't be too difficult to find space on the 40-man roster for Slama. It would seem like Slama should be the 13th pitcher, but Jeff Manship is up here as the role because he can provide long relief if a starter continues to struggle and gets knocked out of a game early.

Justin Morneau has been resting at home while shaking off the effects of a concussion suffered nearly two weeks ago in Toronto. He's expected to be checked out on Monday, when the club will have a better idea if he'll be able to make the upcoming road trip to Baltimore and Kansas City.

The Twins have had 12 games in which their pitchers haven't walked a batter, the most in the majors.


White Sox (50-40)

1. Juan Pierre, LF
2. Omar Vizquel, 3B
3. Alex Rios, CF
4. Paul Konerko, DH
5. Carlos Quentin, RF
6. Mark Kotsay, 1B
7. Alexi Ramirez, SS
8. Ramon Castillo, C
9. Gordon Beckham, 2B

Freddy Garcia, RHP

Twins (48-43)

1. Denard Span, CF
2. Orlando Hudson, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Jason Kubel, RF
5. Michael Cuddyer, 1B
6. Jim Thome, DH
7. Delmon Young, LF
8. Danny Valencia, 3B
9. J.J. Hardy, SS

Nick Blackburn, RHP

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