Fourteen pitches for Matt Capps in his Twins debut Friday, 11 for strikes, and one hit allowed in a shutout inning.
Good enough. A couple more notes connected to the Twins' new closer:
* Nick Blackburn was demoted to make room on the roster for him. I had figured it would be Anthony Slama, for two reasons: Blackburn has the guaranteed seven-figure contract, and Blackburn was the most logical choice on the staff for long-relief duties.
Blackburn's demotion is in reality a positive sign for him. He's going to pitch in Rochester, not rot in the pen, and that gives him a chance to fix whatever it is that ails his pitching. I say a chance, because I continue to believe that his struggles are rooted in his level of ability.
* Jon Rauch declined to talk to reporters Friday about returning to a set-up role. He'd have several million reasons to be disappointed that the glory job is no longer his; a 35-40 save season would be a selling point for him as he enters free agency.
I don't mean to say that Rauch is pouting about it; I'm not close enough to tell. Ron Gardenhire painted a picture of a team-first response by Rauch, and that may be accurate — or it may be a bit of blue-sky thinking.
I'll be interested to see when Rauch next pitches in a close game. He was bypassed Friday, even as Jesse Crain was used for the third time in four days. Rauch's ERA in July is 5.40 but that's less than nine innings. He's had three straight scoreless outings — not clean outings, to be sure, but then Capps' debut wasn't 1-2-3 either.