Posted at 10:36 PM on May 27, 2009
by David Zingler
For Nick Blackburn pitching isn't about style points, it's about results. While the 27-year-old righthander has allowed an unnerving 67 hits in 63 1/3 innings, he's also posted a pretty 4-2 record with a fancy 3.55 ERA so far this season.
I caught up with the second year starter following batting practice before Wednesday night's game.
DZ: First off, congrats on the win (Tuesday). What's it like going up against a tough line-up like (Boston's) where there are no easy outs?
BLACKBURN: It's always tough facing those guys. Like you said, there are not too many breaks. Any bat in the line-up can do some damage and they've got speed throughout. There are just a lot of tough outs.
DZ: During BP it must be kind of boring for the pitchers sometimes - especially on an off day like this. I noticed you were making some pretty nice grabs out in the outfield.
BLACKBURN: (laughs) I don't know if they were nice grabs. It's fun to get out there and run around a little bit and goof off. It kind of makes time fly because it can be boring standing out there in BP. At least if you are running stuff down and having fun, it can make time go by a little faster.
DZ: I see you worked up a little sweat tonight too.
BLACKBURN: Absolutely, I haven't stopped sweating for a while.
DZ: You are in your second full year here, how much easier was this time around, knowing the surroundings and everything?
BLACKBURN: I just had a little bit more confidence coming into the season knowing that I can pitch at this level and knowing I had a lot of good games last year. That's just kind of carried over so far this season and I started learning a little bit more about myself. Things are rolling pretty good right now and I think the more good games I pitch in, the more confident I'll continue to get.
DZ: Your style seems to be to allow some hits, not walk a lot of people and still not (allow runs); have you gotten used to pitching in the stretch?
BLACKBURN: Unfortunately, I've had a lot of practice pitching from the stretch. I've never been a guy to take no-hitters into the deep innings. I give up a lot of hits and this year, I'm walking a lot more guys. I am working a lot at making my pitches from the stretch. It's something that I think is very important for pitchers. Obviously, if you get guys on and you can't pitch out of the stretch, you are going to be in a lot of trouble.
DZ: You started the one-game playoff in Chicago last year, you pitched well but you guys came up short. What was your mindset going into that game - with everything riding on it?
BLACKBURN: I tried not even to think about the situation that we were dealing with because that's just extra pressure. I just went out there with the plan of going out there and pitching like I had all season and it turned out pretty well.
DZ: Losing a tough game like that - what is it like going into the off-season?
BLACKBURN: Obviously it was tough. I think it was tough on everybody. We had a lot of chances to make that game up earlier in the season. A 1-0 game; I don't think anybody would have expected that. Especially between those two teams. It was just unfortunate, it was a pretty dramatic loss and I tried not to dwell on too long in the off-season.
DZ: Is there a process where you as a pitcher go over your starts mentally when you come up 1 game short like that?
BLACKBURN: You don't want to. Like I said, you don't want to think about it - I tried to think about getting ready for this year. It's something that is going to be in the back of your mind. I am thinking 'If I don't throw this pitch here; that cost us 1 game'. You can't do that because there are so many games played in baseball. We won games we shouldn't have won and we lost games we shouldn't have lost also.
DZ: One last thing, I talked to you about this time last year and you were getting mistaken for Joe Mauer around town. Now that you have kind of established yourself, are you getting recognized?
BLACKBURN: Every once and awhile; it doesn't happen very often. I am just glad it's not Joe all of the time (laughs).
(Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
See more of David Zingler's interviews with Twins players:
May 26: Michael Cuddyer
May 15: Matt Guerrier
May 13: Kevin Slowey
April 30: Brendan Harris
April 28: Jason Kubel
April 18: Justin Morneau
April 15: R.A. Dickey
April 14: Denard Span
April 8: Philip Humber
April 7: Joe Crede