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Updated: May 4th, 2011 3:39pm
Twins Daily: Kubel, Blackburn lead Twins to sweep of White Sox

Twins Daily: Kubel, Blackburn lead Twins to sweep of White Sox

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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CHICAGO -- Nick Blackburn allowed only one earned run in 6 2/3 innings, and Jason Kubel continued his hot hitting as the Minnesota Twins added salt to Tuesday night's wound with a 3-2 win over the Chicago White Sox.

The skinny

With four walks and a hit batter, Blackburn didn't have his best stuff on Wednesday, but he managed to pitch his way through 6 2/3 innings while allowing only one earned run to a temporarily-feeble Chicago White Sox offense.

The sinkerballer Blackburn induced 11 groundball outs to only one flyball out -- no small task against a White Sox team that entered Wednesday with the fourth highest flyball percentage (42%) in baseball.

"Obviously not pumped about (four walks), but I threw a lot of close pitches," Blackburn said. "There was some pitches that were just off the plate that probably could have gone either way. I wasn't all over the place. Four walks, obviously I wasn't throwing a whole lot of strikes, but I don't think my control was as bad as it sounds. So I was pretty pleased with that outing. I think we had those guys off balance pretty good."

He added, "For a groundball pitcher it's important that you are getting those groundballs, because it's just an indication that everything's working down (in the zone). It means the ball is coming out of my hand pretty well today. If I give up eight or nine flyball outs, obviously something's not going right for me."

Although the Twins offense has still scored more than five runs in a game only once all year, one run in the first inning and two runs in the sixth was enough for Blackburn and company on Wednesday.

Turning point

Locked in a wet newspaper fight for the first five innings, the Twins opened the sixth with back-to-back singles by Denard Span and Matt Tolbert -- the second was supposed to be a sacrifice bunt, but Tolbert reached when second baseman Omar Vizquel was late covering first.

Justin Morneau's flyout to right field moved both runners into scoring position, and Jason Kubel's sac fly to left scored Span to put the Twins up 2-1.

After a free pass to Michael Cuddyer -- who entered Wednesday with a .348/.490/.875 against John Danks -- Rene Tosoni singled up the middle to score Tolbert, giving the Twins a 3-1 lead.

Numbers game

13: RBIs by Kubel this season to go along with a .350/.395/.524 batting line. Along with the sixth-inning sac fly, Kubel also singled home a run in the first inning.

5: Outs recorded by closer Matt Capps, who tallied his fifth save of the season. With the Twins leading 3-1, Capps entered the game with runners on the corners and one out in the bottom of the eighth inning. Because he hadn't pitched in nearly a week, Capps was well-rested and willing to go more than one inning. "We talked about that," Gardenhire said. "A day off (Thursday) also. He hasn't thrown a lot, and he had some bullets in him. So we were going to use him, we knew that going into it."

22: Consecutive at-bats without a hit for Drew Butera prior to his fifth-inning single.

1: Innings thrown by former Twin Jesse Crain on Wednesday. Crain pitched a clean eighth after walking Danny Valencia.

3: The number of times the Twins have strung together at least two wins in a row this season.

9: The number of players called up from Triple-A Rochester so far this season -- Trevor Plouffe, Ben Revere, Luke Hughes, Rene Tosoni, Steve Holm, Jim Hoey, Alex Burnett, Eric Hacker and Anthony Swarzak. It looks like that number will grow to 10 soon, as Holm was optioned to Rochester after Wednesday's game. A corresponding roster move will come before Friday night.

Overheard

"Well when we called Tosoni up, we were talking about who was ready to come up, and they told me that Ben Revere was more apt to be sent to Double-A than the big leagues. So that tells you he wasn't playing very well. He's been swinging really good as of lately, the last few days since Tosoni's come up here, which may have been a nice little wakeup call for him, which is a good thing."
-- Gardenhire, discussing the thought process behind recent minor league call-ups.

Health report

• DH Jim Thome (left oblique) didn't reaggravate his injury or make it worse, but when he wasn't able to get loose on Tuesday the team decided placing him on the DL was the best option. Because he played on Saturday in Kansas City, Thome won't be eligible to return until May 15. "Wouldn't matter," Gardenhire said when asked if he regrets playing Thome over the weekend. "If we would have (DL'd him) a week ago, he probably would have been out for three weeks anyways. Know what I'm saying? We don't know how long this is going to be. He has a little oblique thing and normally those are a month. So they're telling me a couple weeks, see where we're at, we gave him every opportunity to swing which is what we wanted him to do. He swung and played in the game, did alright, felt alright, did alright, but the weather hasn't been conducive to getting him healthy. It's time now we make a decision and go ahead and DL him. Let him get healthy."

• RHP Kevin Slowey (shoulder) is likely to be activated on Saturday when the Twins are in Boston. He's stretched out enough to start at some point in the near future, if needed, but Slowey will pitch out of the bullpen if everything remains status quo. "Everything's rolling good. His fifth day would be Saturday. Don't want to use him before that. "We've dealt with that before."

• OF Jason Repko (quad) was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday. "He says he's 90 percent," Gardenhire said. "But can you steal a base? 'Well, I can try.' Well, I can try myself. But I want people that can play. We've been playing short way too long. So we're getting healthy people in here, and we're going to play with a full roster and see what happens there."

• C Joe Mauer (leg weakness) was scheduled to mix in some baseball activities on Wednesday. "Not going to be real heavy yet, just have to get him out there, swinging throwing just the basic stuff," trainer Dave Pruemer said. As for getting into a crouch, Pruemer added, "(We'll) try to get him going with that, too. He's been doing a lot of that stuff in the weight room anyway, once we get going, when he does eventually go out and do the catching."

• OF Delmon Young (ribs) could return to the team in Boston this weekend, but that's not a certainty.

On deck

The Twins have a day off on Thursday before beginning a four-game series in Boston against the Red Sox.

Coming up

• Friday: at Boston, 6:10 p.m. RHP Scott Baker (1-2, 3.16 ERA) vs. RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-2, 3.81).
• Saturday: at Boston, 12:10 p.m. LHP Brian Duensing (2-1, 2.91) vs. RHP Clay Buchholz (2-3, 4.81).
• Sunday: at Boston, 12:35 p.m. RHP Carl Pavano (2-3, 5.84) vs. LHP Jon Lester (4-1, 2.33).

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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