Jim Thome's blast sinks Twins, ends Scott Diamond's impressive run
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One night after roughing up one of the best pitchers in the National League, Cole Hamels, for seven runs, the Twins offense was only able to score once against Blanton, who hadn't held an opponent to fewer than five earned runs since May 14.
Blanton went all nine innings, scattering seven hits while walking nobody and striking out seven.
"Blanton, he pretty much chewed us up," manager Ron Gardenhire said.
"Last night we swung the bat really well and beat the ball around and tonight we just got ate up."
Heading into the game left-handed batters were hitting .308/.343/.506 off Blanton this season, which is why Gardenhire penciled six left-handed hitters into his lineup. But those left-handed batters combined for just five singles, a double and four strikeouts.
"I caught a break here and there with a couple of hangers they just missed," Blanton said. "I haven't had that in a while."
Falling victim to Thome, Diamond was tagged with his worst outing of the season on Thursday night.
Ty Wigginton opened the scoring with a line-drive home run into the left-field seats off Diamond in the second inning. Trevor Plouffe responded with a home run in the bottom of the second to tie the game, but Thome answered Plouffe's blast with a towering three-run homer over the scoreboard in right field in the third inning.
The home run ball -- Thome's 607th -- was lost somewhere in the bushes below the front row of seats. Fans searched for several minutes but came up empty. The Twins even sent a search crew out after the game.
Thome has been collecting all of his home run balls since shortly before his 500th career homer.
"Especially against a lefty, I was looking for the ball more out of over the plate," Thome said. "I tried to slow myself down. Especially against a lefty you don't really try to do too much. I was trying to stay through the middle to left center and got the bat head out and pulled it."
Diamond settled down to retire the final seven batters he faced, but he was charged with four earned runs in six innings -- the first time he has allowed more than three runs in a game this season. Diamond allowed five hits, walked two and struck out one.
"I challenged a lot of guys and was able to mix it up a little bit," Diamond said. "If I could take those two pitches back that would be a little bit different ballgame."
Carlos Ruiz delivered an RBI double off Lester Oliveros in the eighth to stretch Philadelphia's lead to 5-1.
In the top of the sixth inning, Wigginton hit a line drive down the left-field line that appeared to kick up white grass along the chalk line, but third base umpire Phil Cuzzi ruled it foul. Cuzzi was the umpire who ruled a Joe Mauer line drive foul in New York during a 2009 ALDS game.
Thome's homer was his second in as many games, and it seemed to take the air out of a Twins team that spent three hours the previous night trying to dig out of a six-run hole.
"I tried to kind of work in a little bit, work both sides against him, and that cutter kind of came back over the plate," Diamond said. "He's such a good hitter, he's not going to miss a pitch like that."
24: Home runs for Thome at Target Field.
103: Walks drawn by Thome in his career after falling behind 0-2 in the count, including one against Diamond in the first inning.
• P.J. Walters was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday morning with shoulder inflammation.
• Eddie Rosario will have surgery within the next week -- after swelling goes down -- to insert a plate above his upper lip, a procedure that will sideline him for a few weeks. Rosario was hit in the face with a line drive while standing near third base during batting practice earlier this week.
"He's such an ox. As a matter of fact, he's a blue ox. I saw pictures of him one one time. He's just a strong young man."
-- Gardenhire on Thome.
Friday: vs. Brewers, 7:10 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano (1-7, 6.45) vs. RHP Yovani Gallardo (5-5, 4.21)
Saturday vs. Brewers, 1:10 p.m. TBD vs. RHP Mike Fiers (1-2, 4.50)