After back-to-back showdowns with NL aces, Chris Sale might be forgiven for not being as keyed up to go toe-to-toe with Nick Blackburn for a daytime getaway day start.
Not that it would have mattered.
Despite trotting out a bit of a Sunday lineup that lacked Konerko, Beckham, and Viciedo, the White Sox offense pummeled Blackburn, and didn't let up on the Twins bullpen.
Already leading 2-0 in the 5th, Blackburn's day ended with four runs worth of back-to-back home runs from Adam Dunn and Alex Rios...hit pretty much to the same spot deep in the left field bleachers.
Things proceeded to get much worse for the help.
Jeff Manship relieved Blackburn in the 6th and allowed five hits and three runs in a single frame. Jeff Gray came in the 7th and got pretty close to a clean inning, but allowed an A.J. Pierzynski triple that nearly cleared the center field fence, and Jordan Danks' first RBI. Tyler Robinson put his perfect MLB career (Four batters faced, four strikeouts) on the line, and yielded two runs on four straight hits, including the rarely seen Adam Dunn infield single.
Meanwhile, Chris Sale was well enough through seven strong innings. It was not a 'force of nature' type of effort--there was plenty of hard contact and it feels wrong that Brian Dozier will be able to boast that he homered off of the AL ERA leader, but he was more than good enough to stay out of the way.
White Sox 12, Twins 5
Everyone? The Sox had 21 hits, for goodness sake
Chris Sale - 7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, BB, 5 K, HR, 93 pitches - Cruise control
Alejandro De Aza - 3 for 6, R, RBI, K - His slugging percentage has fallen all the way down below .400, but that's not really his job.
Eduardo Escobar - 2 for 5, 3 R, K - He's not all that useless
Kevin Youkilis - 3 for 4, 2B, R, 2 RBI - He can stay
Adam Dunn - 3 for 5, HR, 4 RBI - Slump appears to be busted. He's allowed to have them if they're not going to last the whole season
Alex Rios - 3 for 5, HR, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, K - Seems like someone wrote about his resurgence just earlier today
Blackburn still had the possibility of a quality start on the horizion with two on and two out in the 5th. With the 0 for 24 slump Adam Dunn was on as he stepped in, and his typical problems with making contact, it seemed unlikely he could help unless he really got into one.
As it so happened, Dunn went with an outside fastball all the way into the second deck in left field to give the Sox a 5-0 lead. Rios followed up immediately by hammering a high changeup to a similar spot, leaving the Twins with little chance to answer with Sale on the mound.
Things Would Be Different If...
...The Twins hadn't emptied out their bullpen.
It's only natural after two straight nights of close games that the Twins put the back half of the relief corps out while they were down. But Manship, Gray, and Robertson allowed six runs in less than three innings, and turned a game that was a bad Will Ohman outing (which happened) away from being close into a laugher that no pitcher could ruin.
The joy and relaxation of an easy victory cannot be overstated. The White Sox have now won back-to-back series, gave Chris Sale an easy one, and avoided using any important relievers heading into a four-game set in New York
That Yankees series won't be easy no matter how many of their starters go down, but missing C.C. Sabathia and the hell the Indians just put New York through--while still losing--should surely help.
Team Record: 40-35, 2.5 games up