Gavin Floyd didn't have much on his side going into Tuesday night's game. Already mired in a pretty terrible season that was just starting to turn around, Gavin had to face the Twins.
The Sox hadn't just lost the last eight games he started against the Twins, but Floyd had been tagged with the decision each time, and accumulated an 8.86 ERA in the process. Worse yet, as Chuck Garfien reminded, he hadn't retired Joe Mauer since 2010.
Floyd struck out Joe Mauer in the 1st inning.
That set the tone, but it's not as if Floyd didn't encounter any trouble. He dealt with runners in scoring position in four of his seven innings, but leaned hard on a dominant cutter, and excellent control, to match a season-high in nine strikeouts over seven shutout frames.
The little offense he received came largely at the hands of Alex Rios, who hit a missile two-run homer in the 4th and scored on an Alexei Ramirez single in the 7th.
It seemed like more than enough for Addison Reed, who had just received his first day off since Thursday the previous night. Reed overpowered two of the first three hitters he faced for strikeouts, only to be vicitimized by back-to-back bloop hits, then blow an 0-2 count to pinch-hitter Chris Parmalee by hitting him, before another bloop off the bat of Jamey Carroll brought home two runs and narrowed the lead to one.
A Denard Span groundout to Beckham mercifully ended what suddenly turned into a nail-biter.
White Sox 3, Twins 2
Gavin Floyd - 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K, 95 pitches - A fine candidate for his best start of the year, and at a great time.
Alex Rios - 2 for 4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI - Combined with his athletic play in the field, an absolutely dominant performance
Alexei Ramirez - 2 for 3, 3B, RBI, K - Well, I'll be. His slugging percentage is over .300 now
Paul Konerko - 0 for 3, R, BB - Well, he scored at least
Due to circumstances unforseen, this one went all the way down to a one-on-one matchup with Denard Span vs. Addison Reed for the fate of the game. On an 1-1 count, Reed busted Span on the hands and got a weak grounder to 2nd base, and balance returned to the universe.
Things Would Be Different If...
...he Sox would have found a way to get rid of Alex Rios after last season.
Instead, they have an above-average corner outfielder to stick in the middle of the lineup. Rios' massive home run to the second deck showed off his underrated power and raised his slugging percentage to .480, and his athletic running catch in right showed how much more helpful he can be when he isn't tasked with too much responsibility.
Beating the Twins is vital for every member of the White Sox organization's sense of self-worth, but more important is a second-straight solid outing from Floyd, who is desperately needed to solidify this banged-up and overworked rotation. This night would have been a big gain for the team even if Reed had fallen apart in the 9th.
Not that I'd ever want to try to argue that.
Team Record: 39-35, 1.5 games up