Minnesota Twins (38-30) at Philadelphia Phillies (34-30)
Nick Blackburn, RHP (6-3, 4.96 ERA) vs. Joe Blanton (1-5, 7.28 ERA)
Time: 7:05, Citizens Bank Park
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 84
TV: Comcast SportsNet
“Goals are overrated.” This is, according to his colleagues, the motto of The Guardian soccer analyst Jonathan Wilson. For nearly a month, the Phillies have been abiding by this philosophy, losing low-scoring game after low-scoring game. Well, judging by 1) the quality of hitters that the team from Canada South is bringing to Philly this evening 2) the mini-renaissance that the Phillies, and Shane Victorino in particular, have had of late against the Yankees and 3) the two starting pitchers, tonight’s game will break that trend. Expect more scoring and excitement than this morning’s USA-Slovenia game.
The troubles of Joe Blanton, who has followed up a career year and a $24 million contract extension with injury a steaming pile of 7.28 ERA, have been well-documented, so I won’t belabor them here. Nick Blackburn, on the other hand, is an odd bird. Blackburn, despite being right-handed and not striking anyone out, has been a pretty decent pitcher over the years, posting 11-11 records and respectable ERAs in 2008 and 2009. This year, he followed up a 5-0 May with two rough starts to start June, and currently has allowed 12 earned runs in 13 1/3 IP in three starts this month. What makes Blackburn odd is how few people he strikes out. The Twins have assembled a staff that never walks anyone, and Blackburn is perhaps the greatest exemplar of that philosophy. But this season he’s only struck out 22 batters in 74 1/3 IP. That’s not a typo. You know how I always say that Kyle Kendrick will wash out because of his low strikeout rate? Well Blackburn’s strikeout rate is half of Kendrick’s.
Of course, it helps when you’ve got Denard Span, Joe Mauer, and Justin Morneau giving you run support. Even with the Phillies’ recent struggles, a football score is not out of the question.
Tonight’s Lineup:Victorino CF, Polanco 3B, Utley 2B, Howard 1B, Werth RF, Ibanez LF, Ruiz C, Valdez SS, Blanton P
Your gameday beer: Chimay Grand Reserve
My favorite beer, without hesitation or qualification, in the world. A trappist ale best consumed at room temperature. 9% ABV.