Thursday, April 03, 2008

Nice Pitching

Joe Saunders was awesome last night, throwing strikes and keeping the ball on the ground. The Twins didn't threaten very often, but when they did Joe got another double play ball. Aybar looks really good on turning the DP, showing off his acrobatics on the turn a few times with the runner bearing down on him.

Until I found out that Nick Blackburn was starting game 3, I had no idea who he was. Baseball America rated him the #1 prospect in the Twins system (though a weak system before the Santana trade was completed). His ERA was over 7 at the end of last year and his minor league numbers show a guy who barely strikes out 4.5 per 9, though his control is good. The numbers look like a batting practice pitcher. The reports say that due to injuries he had pitched without good stuff for most of his time in the minors. The stuff looked pretty good last night, with a 94 MPH fastball, sharp command of a breaking ball, and a slider that Vlad Guerrero absolutely could not distinguish from his fastball until it was too late. This is rare, Vlad may swing at anything, but he generally picks up on what type of pitch is thrown. If Blackburn can keep the stuff he had last night and stay healthy, he's got a good future ahead of him.

That is of course a big if, but last night his stuff looked like the stuff of vintage John Lackey.

Jon Garland pitched a fine game himself. He didn't strike anybody out, so sooner or later he's going to give up a ton of hits, but I can't complain about a guy getting through 8 innings on a low pitch count, or the Angel offense from Tuesday night.

2-1. Good start.


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