Twins suffer tough defeat in opener
Neshek takes the loss after allowing pivotal grand slam
CHICAGO -- In a launching pad like U.S. Cellular Field, broken-bat fly balls still have a chance to leave the yard.
So even though reliever Pat Neshek shattered Joe Crede's bat with an inside fastball in the seventh with two outs and the bases loaded, the White Sox third baseman was still strong enough to get the ball over the left-field fence for a tiebreaking grand slam in Chicago's 7-4 win over Minnesota on Monday.
"When [Crede] initially hit the ball," Neshek said, "I thought Delmon [Young] was going to come into foul territory and scoop it up."
"[Crede] looked at his bat after he hit it," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We know the ball flies here. He got enough of it. It doesn't matter what the bat does."
"I didn't think it had enough," Crede said, "especially when my bat shattered after I hit it. But anything in the air definitely has a shot."
With one out in the seventh, reliever Matt Guerrier walked Jim Thome, then gave up a single to Paul Konerko before Neshek entered. Jermaine Dye tied the score at 3 with a base hit up the middle. Neshek fooled Dye on an 0-2 pitch, but he was still able to stick the bat out and direct the ball up the middle.
"Some days it just doesn't go your way," Neshek said. "When you make them look funny like that and he still gets a piece -- you just shake your head. They beat me with some good stuff today. You just tip your hat."
"[Neshek] walked Thome and that kind of seems to always lead to something when you walk people late in the ballgame," Gardenhire said.
"It's not very often do you see Neshek give up hits," Gardenhire added. "He looked like he made a good pitch on Jermaine Dye, but he stuck his bat out and put it up the middle. After that, he broke Crede's bat and it still went out of the ballpark. But the balls were up, and he couldn't finish off the inning."
Rookie Nick Blackburn was impressive again in his second Major League start, leaving the game with the Twins ahead 3-2 after five innings. He scattered seven hits and walked two while striking out five.
"There were times out there that I felt pretty comfortable," Blackburn said. "It's just one of those days, struggling to hit spots. I was happy with the turnout of today's game, as far as my performance. At any point of the game, it could've got completely out of control."
"He really battled out there," Gardenhire said. "He made a lot of pitches, a lot of long innings out there. But he competed and he never gave up the big inning."
Kerry Walls is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.