The third man to face Nick Blackburn on Saturday doubled. The batter after that singled.
And I thought: Uh oh, Line Drive Nick is back.
After that, brilliance. As in 21 straight outs.
The Seattle ballpark is notably kind to pitchers, and the Seattle lineup is the soft butter of baseball. When Blackburn and Brian Fuentes finished being hot knives, the only man in the Mariner lineup with a batting average above .250 was Ichiro.
But Texas is a hitter's park and a quality lineup, and Blackburn fared well there in his previous start.
Supposedly he is armed with a change-up now. Something, as least in these few innings, is different; he's had 11 strikeouts in 17.6 innings. That's not a great rate, but one can survive with it — if he can sustain it.
I agreed wholeheartedly with the decision to bring Fuentes in for the last out. Russell Branyan is a dangerous left-handed power hitter; he was the man with the double in the first inning; it was a 1-0 game; he struggles against lefties; and Fuentes, as noted in previous post, destroys lefties. If the Twins had a big lead, if they weren't in a reasonably close race, yeah, let Blackburn face him. But this was the time for the new bullpen toy,
It says a lot about the Seattle roster that their manager saw no better alternative than letting Branyan flail and fail.
Poll results: Just 32 opinions voiced on which team will have the best record in the American League. The Yankees got 14 votes (44 percent); the Rays 11 (34 percent); the Twins 6 (19 percent) and the Rangers 1 (3 percent).
New poll up.