As a hush fell over the crowd at the Metrodome, Blackburn immediately fell to the turf and was attended to by Twins trainers. Aided by team staff, the righty walked off the field holding a towel against his bloody nose.
"That was scary," said manager Ron Gardenhire. "That's one of those things where you forget about the game of baseball and you worry about the young man out here."
A hard liner off the bat of Bobby Abreu deflected off Blackburn's glove and hit him in the nose. X-rays at a local hospital showed no broken bones or teeth. He is listed as day-to-day with a bruised nose and upper lip. He thinks he'll make his next scheduled start on Friday in Chicago.
"It's part of the game," Blackburn said. "I've been hit in the legs, chest, whatever. It's never fun to have a ball hit back at you."
"For him to react as quick as he did, to get a piece of it, saved him some teeth for sure," said catcher Mike Redmond.
Abreu was visibly shaken as he stood on first base.
"I was saying prayers that nothing bad had happened," Abreu said.
The incident occurred two pitches after Derek Jeter homered for New York to cut Minnesota's lead to 3-1.
Brian Bass, who would pick up the win, came in to replace Blackburn, who entered the game with the most innings by a rookie pitcher in the Majors (71 2/3) and the second-most wins (four).
Mike Cook is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.