If you began watching the Twins/Phillies in the 3rd inning, you missed Nick Blackburn's performance. You might ask, how? Well, take a look at Blackburn's line from last night:
1.2 IP, 6 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 2 HR
On top of that, Blackburn threw 50 total pitches - half of which were registered as strikes. He also retired just two Philadelphia on balls in play; one on the ground and the other on a line drive to left field.
To say it wasn't Blackburn's best start would be an understatement.
In fact, this was Blackburn's fourth start in the month of June; and the third of which he was not able to complete 4 innings of work. On the Twins last road trip, Blackburn 10 earned runs in just 6.1 IP versus Seattle and Oakland.
Blackburn's lack of success on the road should not come as a surprise. In 32 IP, Blackburn has an ERA of 7.31; including 55 hits allowed, 5 home runs, 9 walks, 8 strikes, and an opponents batting average of .393.
As you may have noticed, I highlighted a few different numbers. In fact, I could have highlighted all those numbers based on the significant amount of ridiculousness that they present. In a much easier way of saying it, Blackburn has been awful on the road this season; and not much better as a whole.
However, I am not going to ignore Blackburn's month of May. Blackburn gave a number of people hope that he would be worth the contract extension that he signed with the Twins just a few months ago. Blackburn posted a 2.65 ERA in in 37.1 IP in the month of May - impressive. However, if one looked deeper into Blackburn's moth of May, they would have noticed that he was very, very lucky.
To prove that, here is Blackburn's BABIP by month so far in 2010:
Notice - there are two extremes there; meaning that Blackburn was lucky in the month of May, and has been a bit unlucky in the month of June. Blackburn will never be a pitcher that records a lot of outs via strikeout - and as much as people want to claim his as one, Blackburn isn't as 'ground ball driven' as one would think. In fact, he has a less than one GB/FB ratio on the season.
However, he will always be a pitcher that relies heavily on his defense - and right now, those batted balls in play just aren't finding the Twins defense like they had been in May. In fact, Blackburn is probably closer to the pitcher we saw in April than he is to the pitcher in May or June. And Blackburn wasn't very good, at all, in the month of April.
So be fair, he is probably a little better than that as well. In fact, he has posted ERA's of 4.05 and 4.03 the last two seasons before 2010 so he has had some success - he just isn't going to be able to sustain that success; and I believe we have seen the beginning of that in 2010.
It is just too bad the Twins front office became enamored with ERA and .500 record over the last two seasons to realize that this was bound to happen.