Twins 3, White Sox 2: Byron Buxton is the difference

Back to the first weekend of 2020, Dallas Keuchel was the only White Sox starter to control the Minnesota Twins potent offense. Even though the veteran southpaw only struck out one batter, Keuchel allowed just three hits and two earned runs in 5.1 innings pitched on 73 pitches. Doing an excellent job of getting the Twins to hit grounders (11) while limiting the number of fly balls (3). That performance has been typical for Keuchel in 2020, who is posting his best ERA/FIP numbers since 2017.

Meanwhile, Twins hitters have continued to struggle against left-handers since facing Keuchel. As a team, they have hit .239/.306/.348 with just eight home runs. Before the game, the Twins did receive some good news that Byron Buxton was added to the lineup.

Keuchel mostly did his job, but Buxton came up big for the Twins as they evened the series with a 3-2 victory over the Sox.

Starting for the Twins was Michael Pineda as he made his first start since being suspended for PEDs in late 2019. Pineda enjoyed tremendous success against the 2019 White Sox going 4-0 with a 2.88 ERA in 25 innings. But that was last year, and the 2020 White Sox squad made a point early to Pineda.

Tim Anderson led off with an infield single thanks to Pineda not covering first base. Jose Abreu extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a single for himself. After Edwin Encarnacion hit a deep fly out to center, allowing Anderson to advance to third, it was up to Eloy Jimenez to convert.

Jimenez was able to pull Pineda’s fastball, splitting the gap in left field. Anderson quickly scored with little effort. Abreu chugged around the bases like a freight train wailing to alert those to get out of his path. He scored from first as Jimenez strolled into second base for a two-RBI double. A much-needed hit after going 0-for-12 in his last three games.

Keuchel got himself into a jam in the third inning. After two quick outs, Keuchel allowed back-to-back singles to Jorge Polanco and Nelson Cruz. Next was Marwin Gonzalez, and Keuchel fell behind to a quick 3-0 count. Gonzalez had the green light and almost pulled Keuchel’s four-seam fastball down the left-field line but just sliced foul. Keuchel followed up with a changeup, and all Gonzalez could do is hit a grounder at Yolmer Sanchez for the 5-4 fielder’s choice ending the threat.

Abreu didn’t have a good fifth inning. In the top half, he stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded. Nick Madrigal pulled a single to start the rally. Tim Anderson found the hole in the infield on a called hit and run. With runners on the corners, Yasmani Grandal walked.

On the first pitch, a low slider, Abreu barely made contact. But it was enough to slowly trickle to Miguel Sano for an easy out bailing out Pineda. What was a promising start ended up falling flat as Pineda made it through six innings against the Sox offense only allowing the two runs.

In the bottom half, Keuchel again got into a jam. Polanco and Cruz had back-to-back singles again to put runners on the corners with one out. Using the same strategy against Gonzalez from earlier, Keuchel got his grounder hit to third. Sanchez made an excellent play charging up to the ball and made an accurate throw to Madrigal at second. The rookie second baseman made a great transition with his throw to first base and appeared to be on time for an inning-ending double play.

But Abreu dropped the ball, which allowed Polanco to score, and the Sox lead was cut in half.

For a moment, it looked like Edwin Encarnación made it a two-run lead with a deep fly to start the sixth inning. Buxton did a terrific job of tracking the ball and timed his jump perfectly to rob Encarnación of a home run.

Buxton saving that run allowed Minnesota to tie it in the sixth inning. Jimmy Cordero replaced Keuchel, which prompted Twins manager Rocco Baldelli to have Jake Cave pinch-hit. On a 3-2 count, Cordero’s fastball caught too much of the plate, and Cave hit a line drive to find the gap in right field. Nomar Mazara didn’t take the best route fielding the ball, and that defensive mishap allowed Cave to reach third on a triple.

Baldelli went to the bench again and had Luis Arraez pinch-hit. Similarly, the call worked as Arraez pulled a grounder past a diving Abreu for an RBI double. With a tied game and one out, Miguel Sano hit a hard grounder at Tim Anderson. Instead of going back to second, Arraez thought he could get to third base before Sanchez. That was a poor decision and ended up in a TOOTBLAN helping the Sox.

A couple of curious decisions made by the White Sox in the seventh inning contributed to Minnesota taking the lead. After Cordero gave up the lead, Rick Renteria decided to start the inning with him to face Cruz instead of Evan Marshall, who was warmed up in the bullpen.

Well, maybe it doesn’t matter who is throwing for the White Sox against Cruz because he doubled down the right-field line. After that result, Renteria swapped Cordero for Marshall to face Gonzalez. In a tough at-bat, Marshall walked Gonzalez to turn up the heat.

Now facing Buxton, Marshall threw an inside fastball. Just a bit ahead in his timing, Buxton pulled that pitch foul into the seats. Instead of throwing a breaking pitch or changeup to the outside corner, Grandal called for a second inside fastball. This time Buxton timed it right and singled to left field, giving the Twins their first lead.

Buxton’s single was the game-winning hit as Sergio Romo and Matt Wisler did their job flipping sliders at Sox hitters to prevent another late comeback. White Sox bats went to sleep as they only had one base runner after the fifth inning, and are once again tied for the AL Central lead with Cleveland.

Game Notes:

  • Yolmer Sanchez went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in his first start of 2020
  • Tim Anderson went 3-for-4 boosting his batting average to .345
  • Nelson Cruz went 3-for-3 with a walk. 
  • Dallas Keuchel only threw 85 pitches as he was consistently missing his spots and dealing with a stomach issue. The lack of command didn’t hurt his final line too much as he went 5 IP 7 H 1 R 0 ER 2 BB 4 K. His season ERA is now 2.42. 

Record: 22-14 | Box Score | StatCast

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MrStealYoBase

To piggy-back off pnole’s tweet and not to beat a dead horse any more but…

Marte made sense to trade for in the off-season and made even more sense yesterday. Unless Mazara has an awakening in the last month, they can’t justify starting him in 2021.

So it’s Springer (doe$nt $eem likely), Pederson (a decent, but imperfect solution) or they are going to have to make a trade this off-season anyways.

There’s a lot of young talent in the bullpen, but if they don’t trust those guys to throw multiple days in a row yet, why not get a cheap veteran at the deadline so they aren’t forced to ride Cordero to death?

Maybe it’s just frustration after a loss talking, but I’m disappointed that they didn’t try to make this team more competitive at the deadline. Chances to compete don’t come around too often.

iowasox1971

“Chances to compete” will exist for the next five or six years with this team. Otherwise, the three-year rebuild was a complete failure. Our contention window is just starting to open. It’s not like it’s ready to close and we have a bunch of high-salaried aging veterans and this is our last hurrah.

Because of that, and the fact that we would have to completely collapse to miss the expanded playoffs this year, it was a good move to not overpay for someone at the trade deadline. There really isn’t a ton to play for the rest of this regular season. Whether we’re the third seed this year, or the fifth seed or even the eighth seed this year doesn’t make much of a difference. We still have to play that opening series no matter what. I really don’t see a huge difference between any of our likely first-round opponents: Yankees, Oakland, Houston, Minnesota, Cleveland and Tampa Bay.

I hear you about getting a “cheap veteran” at the deadline, but would anybody we realistically could have acquired be any better than what we have right now?

burning-phoneix

I don’t know if George Springer is even worth the money at this point if his stats are garbage can inflated. I don’t mind a Joc Pederson/Adam Engel platoon actually.

texag10

George Springer has been in the league since 2014. He’s never had lower than a 10.2 BB% so I somehow doubt he would lose that coming here. This season has been rough but his BABIP is 100 points lower than his career average. He’s still a good player and I would like him here playing right field, I just don’t know what his value actually is with everything that has happened.

GrinnellSteve

The Rangers just added a young outfielder to their 60-man. I wonder if we could get Steele Walker?

NateDPT12

Slider or not it doesn’t make much sense to keep Cordero in given how much hard contact gets was giving up in the 6th.

Why does it seem this team has no idea what to do with Detwiler? They refuse to use him in high leverage situations, they refuse to use him to eat up innings after López or Cease get pulled early. They’re running guys into the ground out there and barely using him. It doesn’t give me much confidence they going to correctly use Rodón when he comes back either.

dwjm3

Last night felt like a loss driven by poor managing by Ricky for the reasons you mention. I believe Cordero has pitched in five of the last six games as well. It feels a bit like Ricky is pitching him into the ground.

I wonder who “we” is as well. Is that Ricky and McEwing or Ricky and Cooper?

Shingos Cheeseburgers

No moves at the deadline implies they either expect 50+ HRs again in Sept along with the bullpen not tiring due to covering 3-4 innings every night or are fine with the result when the offense regresses and bullpen fades.

The god damn Marlins (and Reds! And Padres!) added. The Sox going ride or die into the playoffs with their preassembled roster feels like a microcosm of the ‘mired in mediocrity’ mid 2010s teams.

texag10

The ‘mired in mediocrity’ teams from the 2010s would have traded Vaughn for Rich Hill and talked about the veteran presence he’s going to add to the rotation. We weren’t getting Clevinger and frankly, this season is such a crapshoot anyways that i don’t see any reason why we should have depleted what little farm depth we have for any player on the market. The goal was to build a sustainable product, not shoot our shot for one season.

HallofFrank

I’m not sure the only options were inaction or Vaughn for Rich Hill (or Clevinger, for that matter)…

Starling Marte, for example, would have improved this year’s, and next year’s, team quite a bit. Of course, who knows what the D’Backs like about what they got, but Reynaldo Lopez, Blake Rutherford, and Caleb Freeman ostensibly beats the Marlins offer pretty easily—and probably nets the Sox a reliever, too.

That simply makes the Sox better now and in 2021 at little, and depending on what you think about Lopez & the prospects, or no cost to the future. Sometimes building a sustainable product includes dealing prospects.

MarketMaker

Is this where I point out that we should have signed Marcell Ozuna to a multi-year deal?

stevieb1953

Why is Ricky so enamored with batting Moncada and Grandal so high in the batting order ? Their not number 2 or 3 hitters based on their performance to date, especially on this team. He needs to move Robert and Jimenez up in the order. In fact, I wouldn’t mind seeing Madrigal lead off, with Anderson second then Abreu, Jimenez and Robert. The rest can be mixed and matched.