Thursday night, the Twins trotted out a 27 year-old making his first career major league start, and the White Sox started a guy who’s pitched a perfect game, so naturally they won in a rout.
Eh, perhaps that description doesn’t quite cover it.
Poor defense and a hanging curveball that was hammered for a two-run double by Alex Rios staked the Sox to 4-1 lead after three innings, only for a breakout of awful control from Philip Humber and Nate Jones to give it all back.
Heading into the bottom of the 6th, the Twins led 5-4, and rookie starter Cole De Vries looked to be settling down.
From there on, the White Sox hit four home runs in three innings, which turned out to be enough after all.
White Sox 11, Twins 8
Philip Humber – 4.1 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, HR – He was actually really sharp in the first two innings, but the departure from his control-artist beginnings is taking some unpleasant turns
Alejandro De Aza – 1 for 5, HR, ROE, 2 R, 4 RBI, 2 K – In the 4th, he hit a line drive down the right field line that was initially ruled a home run, then overturned. The blast he hit in his next at-bat was more definitive, and there were three runners on base at the time
Paul Konerko – 2 for 4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, K – His production right now is simply unfathomable
Alex Rios – 2 for 4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI – Forget I said anything. Pull all you want.
Dayan Viciedo – 2 for 4, HR, 2B, 2 R – “To the moon” would be an accurate description of his home run’s flight path.
Justin Morneau – 3 for 5, 2 HR, 2B, 3 R, 3 RBI – The idea of him heating up is not appealing.
Joe Mauer – 2 for 4, HR, 2 R, BB, 2 K – Ditto.
Brian Duensing – IP, 3 H, 4 ER, HR/Will Ohman – 0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, HR – Both these LOOGY’s gave up home runs to left-handed hitters. Duensing’s was more disastrous, Ohman’s called into question what he value he can provide.
Back-to-back homers by Rios and Konerko to start the 6th gave the Sox the lead and chased De Vries, but improper use of Brian Duensing turned it into a nightmare inning for Minnesota.
The career platoon splits by OPS for Duensing are .499 vs. lefties, .824 vs. righties. And yet, Ron Gardenhire brought him in to retire A.J. Pierzynski, followed up by three straight righties.
Perhaps Gardenhire figured the lefty-specialist could manage a slate as unimposing as Viciedo, Ramirez, and Hudson, but instead, they all reached base. It was risky managing, but the grand slam by De Aza that followed it was all Duensing’s fault
Things Would Be Different If…
Injuries up and down the organization have just been hell on the Twins, and between their depleted bullpen and having to pull in spot starters from AAA and pray they can drag through six innings, a windy night in a tiny ballpark is too much for them to overcome.
It’s tragic for them, since the offense looked to be in vintage form on this night.
The Sox are over .500 again just in time for their most recent ‘most important series of the season’ against the 1st place Cleveland Indians.
This wasn’t a night where any member of the pitching staff looked very good; Humber had unimpressive velocity and his control problems are bordering on an identity crisis, Nate Jones didn’t have the right release point and was dragging every pitch to the glove side, Will Ohman is useless at the moment, and Addison Reed had his change-up victimized by Justin Morneau.
But if Pierzynski, Rios, and Viciedo are going to be above-average hitters, and Paul Konerko is going to murder the league, that won’t matter.
Team Record: 23-22, 3.5 GB