The Twins were 1-7 in Nick Blackburn's past eight starts before Wednesday night when he was the winning pitcher in a 3-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox at the Metrodome. The righthander allowed two runs and eight hits in five innings.
The media has been speculating that almost all of the starting pitchers, except Francisco Liriano, were having problems because of tired arms.
Blackburn, closer Joe Nathan -- who got his 39th save Wednesday -- and pitching coach Rick Anderson don't agree with that theory.
"No, no, I don't believe in that," Blackburn said. "I don't think it's a big deal. That's what we train all year-round for, to be throwing like this. I threw this many innings last year. I got a little in fall league and part here, so it wasn't all during the actual regular season, but I ended up getting this many innings overall last year.
"You can get tired eventually but once you get in the game, your adrenaline is going to take over and you'll be fine."
"I think everybody is probably a little tired now," he said. "We've been going at it for eight months, but right now we're at a spot where adrenaline means a lot. It's going to ride you through a lot of things."
Nathan said he feels fine, and so do the four starters who have been with the team all or most of the season: Blackburn, Kevin Slowey, Scott Baker and Glen Perkins. Liriano started the season with the Twins, was sent down to Class AAA Rochester and rejoined the team in August.
"This is a time where this is where you want to be, the spot you want to be in," Nathan said. "And like I said, it's a spot where, when I get out there, the adrenaline is going to ride me through. I'm not saying the results are always going to work out the way you want them to, but as far as going out there and feeling fine and your body responding, I'm feeling great. Everything is intact."
Anderson said beating fatigue at this time of year is more mental than physical.
"You know what, it's mind over matter," the pitching coach said. "It's been a long season for everyone. And in baseball in general, if you start thinking you're tired, you'll be tired. They're not tired, it's just mentally, they've got to stay strong.
"But you know what, right now you get in the stretch drive, and the adrenaline should take over."
The Twins have had good pitching performances to win the first two games from the White Sox. Let's see if they can make it three in a row tonight with righthander Slowey on the mound.Matches record
Cornerback Antoine Winfield's four defensive statistics on one play Sunday in the 20-10 victory over Carolina occurred for only the third time in Vikings history.
He had a quarterback sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery and a fumble return for a touchdown. His 19-yard return with 1 minute, 4 seconds left in the second quarter tied the score at 10-10.
Carl Eller did it against the 49ers in 1964 and Al Noga did it against Green Bay in 1990.
The Vikings didn't blitz often against the Panthers, but Winfield made the most of his opportunity.
"That was my first and only blitz of the day," he said. "We disguised it well and we hadn't shown it on film, so they didn't think it was coming.
"That was a corner blitz, it was the perfect play for that time, they didn't expect it, we hadn't shown it on film, I got there and made a good play."
The touchdown was Winfield's second as a Viking. He intercepted a Joey Harrington pass in the fourth quarter in a 24-3 victory against Atlanta in last year's regular-season opener and returned it 14 yards for a TD.
Winfield called the touchdown he scored Sunday the better of the two.
"I think this one is a lot better," he said. "The one against Atlanta, I got a tipped ball and ran it in. At that time [in the Carolina game] we were down 10-3, it wasn't looking too good, about to go into halftime. We tied it at 10-10 and we held on to win."Father helps Simmons
Terry Simmons lettered for the Gophers football team and his son, Jack, is now a senior tight end on the team. He spends a lot of time talking to his father about his performance with the Gophers.
"We talk after every practice, just how things went and just about the game," Jack said. "Probably every day before the game, after the game, just about stuff that happened in it and that kind of stuff. It's a good tutor for me to have and a guy to lean on and everything.
"He's just watched [and played] a lot of football. Football's a big part of his life. So we just talk about my stuff and if I'm getting low enough on blocks and that kind of stuff. But he doesn't get too technical with it. His big thing is just attitude and effort when he talks to me."
Simmons, who has seven catches for 98 yards and one touchdown this season, played much of last year with a broken bone in his foot. He had surgery in December and is now healthy.
"Yeah, my foot is feeling better, and I'm able to run better," Jack said. "It's just nice to be healthy and feel free to play good football out there. It's good."Jottings
Gus Frerotte is 3-0 as a Vikings starting quarterback, after winning two games in 2003 while replacing the injured Daunte Culpepper. He completed 16 of 21 passes for 267 yards and four touchdowns to help the Vikings beat the 49ers 35-7 on Sept. 28 of that year, then completed 14 of 24 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns to beat Atlanta 39-26 on Oct. 5. ... The Vikings' top brass have been holding meetings on how they will present a plan for a new stadium to the Legislature next session. Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission continues to postpone naming an architect who can draw up plans to use part of the Metrodome in the building of a new stadium to save money.
The Vikings are paying the highest ticket tax of any team in the country, with a 10 percent stadium tax and a 6.5 state tax. ... The Vikings wound up selling about 55,000 season tickets this year. Of those, 5,300 were new season tickets. They don't have a waiting list any longer. Phil Huebner, Vikings director of ticketing and hospitality, said he believes the rising cost of gas for businesses transporting fans to games from North and South Dakota has cost the Vikings 800 tickets sales a game. ... Congratulations to former Vikings great Jim Marshall, who got married last week.
Two former Gophers athletes will be awarded the University of Minnesota Outstanding Achievement Award: Harvey Mackay on Oct. 2 and Lou Nanne on Oct 14. Both events will be take place at Eastcliff, the home of University of Minnesota president Bob Bruininks. ... Former Gophers basketball player Zach Puchtel, who recently got his graduate degree from Harvard, is a teammate of former Minneapolis North, Connecticut and NBA player Khalid El-Amin with the Tel-Aviv team in Israel. El-Amin will earn around $600,000.