For Nick Blackburn, July can’t come soon enough. In the series finale with the Milwaukee Brewers, Blackburn failed to complete four innings for the fourth time in five June starts. The poor outing, combined with a spectacular performance from the Brewers’ ace Yovani Gallardo, helped Milwaukee complete the three-game sweep with a 5-0 victory on Thursday afternoon.
Through the first two innings, Blackburn looked like the pitcher the Twins saw in May, when the third-year pro went 5-0 with a 2.65 ERA. With one out in the third inning, however, Blackburn fell apart allowing two, two-run home runs. In five June starts, Blackburn has now thrown 18 2/3 innings and allowed 36 hits and 25 earned runs for a horrendous 12.36 ERA.
While Blackburn struggled, the 24-year old Gallardo dominated. The young righty scattered five Minnesota hits (four of which were singles), and struck out 12 batters as he had a perfect game through five innings and went the distance to finish off the sweep with a complete game shutout.
With the loss, the Twins fall to 40-32 on the season, and now lead the second place Tigers by just one game heading into the night and the surging White Sox by just 2.5 games. Things won’t get any easier for Minnesota as they head to the East Coast to face the New York Mets, who have won eight of their past 10 games and hold the best home record in all of Major League Baseball.
Notes: Justin Morneau was the one bright spot for the Twins on the day, collecting two of the team’s five hits…Brian Duensing relieved Blackburn, throwing 3.1 scoreless innings out of the bullpen…Jon Rauch pitched a perfect eighth inning.