Yep, the Tigers also lost, so at least the Twins remain tied for first place. That’s pretty much the best thing that happened to the hometown squadron all day. The offense scored four runs against a very good right-handed pitcher, unfortunately it just wasn’t enough to overcome yet another horrendous start from Mr. Never-Misses-a-Bat. It is so frustrating to watch a team with this much talent continually beat itself with poor play. Yesterday, Michael Cuddyer misplayed a fly ball that lead to a seven-run inning and a waste of a fantastic start by Francisco Liriano. Today, Nick Blackburn hurt his own cause by failing to field a bunt by Jason Bartlett, which lead to a 5-run inning for the Rays. The Twins won only one game in this entire series, despite leading in almost every single game. It’s one thing when a team loses because of a few bad breaks or unlucky bounces, and quite another when they just plain suck.
Best hitter: Jim Thome, .112 WPA. He didn’t hit any home runs, but he did collect a couple of hits and drove in a pair of runs. So, he provided about half of the Twins’ offense, which was nice.
Worst hitter: Denard Span, -.152 WPA. Span was 0-4, but at least he didn’t strike out.
Best pitcher: Alex Burnett, .019 WPA. Oh, you meant in the entire game? That was James Shields, with a .136 WPA. He wasn’t great, allowing four runs on eight hits in six innings, while recording just two strikeouts. It was certainly good enough to win, thanks to plenty of run support, and that’s all that really matters.
Worst pitcher: Blackburn, -.133 WPA. Blackburn was his usual pitching-to-way-too-much contact self, surrendering seven runs on nine hits over 6.1 innings. I want to believe in Blackbeard, but that is really hard to do when hitters are making contact with 93.8% of everything he throws. At least he has three more years to figure things out.
Most important play of the game:
The Blackburn boo-boo, .122 WPA.