The Minnesota Twins aren’t out, but they’re definitely down

Because the White Sox and Twins didn’t meet until 32 games into the season, the question was supposed to be whether the Sox could keep up.

Instead, the pressing question is whether they’ll be able to keep the Twins down.

The first-place Sox are seven games ahead of the fourth-place Twins, and while it’s early, the small sample only makes it more staggering. At FanGraphs, Jay Jaffe put together a comprehensive overview of all that’s ailing the Twins, and every issue that’s currently nipping at the White Sox is eating Minnesota alive.

Injuries? Byron Buxton strained his hip flexor shortly after Luis Robert tore his, and while Buxton’s absence isn’t expected to last as long, he’s supposed to be out weeks, rather than days. Likewise, Alex Kiriloff re-injured his wrist, so both teams are lacking their two most dynamic, projectable outfielders.

On top of that, the Twins have lacked Luis Arraez due to a concussion, Miguel Sano had a hamstring issue, and a lot of the remaining roster had to deal with a COVID-19 outbreak.

Bullpen? The White Sox bullpen has already lost three games it led after six, but the Twins are two games worse in that department at 11-5. They’ve also lost four games they’ve led after eight, which is as many as good teams will lose in an entire season. Alex Colomé bombed out of the closer role and is trying to piece it together in lower-leverage work, and Taylor Rogers stumbled early in his attempt to reclaim ninth innings, and Tyler Duffey has walked as many as he’s struck out.

Extra innings? The White Sox may be 0-3 under the new rules, but the Twins are 0-7. This year. Not combined.

Basically, Minnesota has dealt with failures large and small, and the small ones have detonated at the moments where they can inflict the most damage. That’s how a team is eight games under .500 with a run differential that’s nearly break-even (-2).

That makes me slightly nervous, because while the Royals pulled out a bunch of wins with their Dayton Moore-brand magic and are now paying the price for their lack of sustainable success stories, Minnesota’s situation is a photo negative that could still develop. Nelson Cruz is still Nelson Cruz, Josh Donaldson is back to being Josh Donaldson, and so they only need a few more players to shake what’s ailing them before they resume being a threat.

Kenta Maeda is one of them, and he’ll face the Sox tonight after throwing his first dominant performance of the season his last time out. The Twins have won all five games Michael Pineda has started against the White Sox, and J.A. Happ has found ways to give the White Sox a tough time. Minnesota could win the series and it wouldn’t feel out of place.

That said, the White Sox are countering with their three hottest starters. Dylan Cease, Dallas Keuchel and Carlos Rodón have been strong enough to relegate Lucas Giolito’s struggles to a nuisance, not a crisis. It similarly wouldn’t be that much of a shock if the White Sox took the series and shoved the Twins further down the ladder, at least in the context of both teams’ starts.

In the big picture, it’d still be shocking to see the White Sox eight games up on Minnesota during the first half of May. There’s the idea that the Twins have won the last two division titles and were projected for a third. There’s also the head-to-head record, with Minnesota owning a 42-25 edge over the White Sox, and only split last year’s series because Donaldson threw a fit after homering. The Sox then collapsed over the last 10 days of the 2020 season to fall into third place, the latest example of their ability to “correct” standings in a way that demoralizes the consumer.

That history is why this series still feels significant, even if the White Sox have the ability to absorb a few losses at the moment. They dispatched the Royals in a way that suggested superiority, turning their five-game skid into an eight-game slide. There will be no better time to take it to the Twins, because kicking teams while they’re down pays handsomely.

(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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A series win would be nice, but a sweep with the pitching shutting the twinks down would be very enjoyable.


I really wish people would stop using that homophobic name for the Twins.

It’s perfectly easy and acceptable to hate them without resorting to gay-bashing

Root Cause

I stopped watching ESPN several years ago because it became more about the politics of sports and the private lives of athletes. Sports, for me, is an escape from all the angst in the world.
I really enjoy this website, it rarely gets into politics, and I hope we can all agree to just leave the rest of it outside this forum.

So I guess I am saying that if someone did use it as a slur, it doesn’t belong here.
(I had to look it up to see that it really is one) and if someone says something stupid, I hope we can just ignore it publically and let the moderators handle it.

Now, back to the evil Twins!

Last edited 1 year ago by Root Cause
As Cirensica

ESPN is right now unwatchable with Alex Rodriguez as color commentator. Although I applaud ESPN for using Jason Benetti and Mike Petriello in their Statcast games version which I haven’t yet listened to..


It seems that multiple posters were not aware of the derogatory nature of the word.

Now they are, and will perhaps refrain from using it. Ignoring things publicly does not make them go away, so I tend to call them out. Also even if Jim were to delete the post (he won’t) it would not be as positive of an interaction as this conversation

Root Cause

I see your point. I don’t want to offend anyone. But at the same time, this is how forums go downhill. I could be the grammar police and post that you didn’t end your last sentence with a period but no one came here to get graded on punctuation. I am not here to fight. I respect your opinion. I will just learn to ignore non-baseball posts. Have a great day.


If we’re going to be pedantic, forums go down hill when punctuation and the use of slurs (known or unknown) are compared.


Inappropriateness is a moving target….


I would like to think that I welcome the occasional empathetic reminder (or new word usage), but am also happy that Sox fans can have a discussion on the topic. Thanks.


I know this is going to get off topic and I’m fine if my comment gets deleted by Jim but I just have to say, calling someone out for using a derogatory slur is not “politics”. How people live their lives isn’t “politics”. When MLB has the various awareness games (like pink bats for mother’s day this past weekend), that is not “politics”. I hope that this interaction isn’t being taken as admonishment by L&L and more as a learning experience. Same for anyone who wasn’t aware of the slur. Everyone has gaps and if we all learn from this and grow as people, all the better.


 I welcome the occasional empathetic reminder (or new word usage), but am also happy that Sox fans can have a discussion on the topic. Thanks.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I’ve never heard of that, and giving L & L the benefit of the doubt, he/she probably hasn’t either. I just assumed it was short for Twinkie, which is a name I’ve heard the Minnesotans called my whole life and never associated anything bad to it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Right Size Wrong Shape

If it was intended as shorthand, I just don’t know how much time is saved by not typing “ie”. Sure, it may have been unintended but now they know better to use the term in the future. Also, saying “I’ve always meant it this way, always heard it that way” doesn’t remove the negative connotations. Just because I called my friends the R word as a kid, doesn’t mean I’m allowed to keep using it now.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Right, but a sin can’t be committed without knowledge that something is wrong. Instead of accusing someone of gay bashing, a more charitable way of making that comment would be, “You probably aren’t aware, but that word that you used is also a lesser known gay slur. Now that you know, could you please not use that word.”

It has happened to me in various opportunities as English is my 2nd language. Many slurs, etc were unfamiliar to me. I have learned a quite deal in these Sox forums. I am actually learning in this thread that twink can have a homophobic connotation.


Well that’s just an ass backwards way of looking at the world. “I didn’t know it was a bad word so you really shouldn’t be all that offended by it.” We are talking about someone “abbreviating” a word by taking two out of seven letters off that turns it into a homosexual slur (I don’t think it’s as lesser known as you think) about our main rival and then other people jumping in to say “it’s not that big of a deal”.


Who said you shouldn’t be offended? He said you shouldn’t assume malice.

This is baseball. Everything is unnecessarily abbreviated. There is a whole team called by their first initial. How many key strokes are saved by BB vs walk?

If you want to say “Don’t use twinks” because it’s a gay slang word, cool. I have no problem taking it out of my vocabulary. Going on the attack and assuming every user had malice aforethought and wasn’t just shortening Twinkie is a bit much


“I’ve always meant it this way, always heard it that way” doesn’t remove the negative connotations. Just because I called my friends the R word as a kid, doesn’t mean I’m allowed to keep using it now.

Sorry. Can you clarify? RSWS was saying that “Twinkie” was a name he/she’d heard for his/her whole life. Is “Twinkie” also considered a slur or is it just one when you remove the “ie”?

I’m genuinely asking because I didn’t know this either and am a bit confused reading through this thread.


Thanks for clarifying! TIL.


They aren’t exactly helping the cause.


The “ie” really makes a difference. It’s almost like its a completely different word at that point…


We can all sleep soundly tonight knowing that the twink(ie)s in Minnesota have you in their corner.


speaking as an actual non-straight man, which appears to be a rarity here given the comments, I have to interject that “twink” is not a slur. It is a term for a stereotype of a certain kind of (young) gay/bisexual man, but it’s rarely actually derogatory (outside of very specific sub-subcultures of gay men) and it’s certainly not a ‘reclaimed’ slur or anything like that.

it could be used in a homophobic manner if someone were really determined to do so, but that’s rarely the case. imo (which some other lgbtq ppl might disagree with) it’s not equivalent to “gay-bashing” here. personally, calling them the Minnesota Twinks is amusing, bc 1) the only baseball player I know of who at all resembles the twink stereotype is Nick Madrigal 2) baseball player personalities are usually as opposite to that of the stereotypical twink as possible, and 3) i happen to have a good friend who is in fact a twink from Minneapolis lol

tl;dr twink isnt a slur and this whole kerfuffle is a little silly


Hey now, no facts are allowed in this discussion. Thank you.


I would just say that context matters. Labeling a hated rival as effeminate, small, and gay comes with a certain amount of baggage, in sports and in general society.


The Twins are still probably the scariest team in the division, but it really seems like their expectations are inflated based on some fluky-ish 2019 performances. Polanco, Kepler, Garver, Sanó, and Odorizzi all had career years—and (possibly excepting Sanó) were much better than they’d been before (or they’ve been since).

When Donaldson, Buxton, and Cruz are clicking, it’s a scary top of the order. But I see the Twins more as a solid, top-heavy offense and not the deep, top 3-5 offense in baseball they were in 2019. And if they really are only the former and not the latter, I’m not sure they’ve got the pitching to get back in this (knock on wood).


Big test for Cease tonight. The Tigers are, well, the Tigers. And although the Reds had a scorching hot offense through the first month, there’s nobody in that lineup as scary as Cruz/Donaldson.


I think Cease would have mowed down any lineup with the stuff he had against the Tigers.

I think on that night he had the best arsenal I’ve seen from a pitcher all season. His stuff was just incredible.


It’s totally overused and a very nonspecific cop-out in most cases, but for Cease I’m convinced the issues are “90% mental”. And it’s a lot easier from a confidence standpoint to live in the zone and challenge guys with every pitch when you know they aren’t going to make you pay for it.


I agree. You don’t need to be a pitching coach to be able to see when Cease has it and when he doesn’t. When he’s off, a lot of his pitches look like they stay in the zone for an hour.

As Cirensica

I read in The Athletic last week, can’t remember who wrote it, that only two teams have qualified to the post season with a start as bad as the Twins. Of course, I think the writer was comparing apples to oranges since the post season format has changed drastically (no wild cards pre-1995). In any event, the stats are not favoring the Twins right now, and even though their run differential shows they are a better team, they will need to stop digging a hole they won’t be able to climb out.

The Twins are immersed in bullpen issues and some defensive problems in a time and age where teams are struggling to score runs which means more close games, and more high leverage situations for the bullpen. As hard as it is to believe, the mighty Dodgers have won 5 games on their last 15 with a leaky bullpen being a main contributor. Perhaps Hahn foresaw this, and that explained the splurge on Hendriks.

It will be an interesting series.


I’m always nervous when the Sox take a team on a skid because I always imagine the team corrects it against the Sox.

I also get nervous when the Sox take on a team on a winning streak because they often keep it going against the Sox.

I’m actually nervous whenever any team takes on the Sox to be honest.

As Cirensica

Have you consider following golf or chess instead of the White Sox? It might be good on your nerves. ????


I’m an Aggie. We’ve had a horrible recent history of blowing leads in the second halves of football games. Until A&M is up 28 points with like 3 minutes left, there is never a lead that I am comfortable with even after this past season where we were very good. Some things just never go away….

Last edited 1 year ago by texag10
Michael Kenny

The hole the Twins have dug is enormous, and unless the Sox get swept here, they’re still going to lead them by at least 6.

At this point, I’m honestly more focused on Cleveland, who are just 1 game back. I feel like national writers are ignoring them because they’re not supposed to be good, but when has that stopped them before?

Joliet Orange Sox

Cleveland being unstoppable would be a scarier narrative if they hadn’t been stopped every year since 1948.

That said, I too worry about Cleveland. I have nightmares that there will come a series when Cleveland will beat the Sox game after game by starting Bieber day after day, getting just enough runs every day on a Ramírez extra-base hit in the 7th, and then shutting the Sox down with Karinchak and Clase. My nightmares end with Josh Naylor running in from the outfield with his shirt untucked celebrating wildly. I then wake up and check my phone to be sure it wasn’t real.

Last edited 1 year ago by Joliet Orange Sox

Cleveland has been lucky on both sides of the ball. The pitching is good regardless of being somewhat lucky so far. The offense, however, is one of the worst in baseball. And they aren’t going to make moves to improve that cost any money.


I agree. The starting pitching is really good, the back end of the bullpen is ridiculous, and Ramírez can carry a team for weeks at a time. I’m also expecting them to sign Pujols (who is somehow a significant improvement over their current 1B, Chang), bring up Nolan Jones by mid-June, and make a move for average-ish bat. Those moves won’t make them a good offense, but it will make them just scrappy enough to eek out wins with their pitching.


Folks might also be interested in seeing the number one team in the most recent fangraphs power rankings


The White Sox have been playing like the best team in baseball. There’s really no way of getting around it. The record might not quite show that, but they’re basically tied for the most team WAR and have easily the best run differential. This team is really freaking good and its fun.

Some of those power rankings are weird. In particular, I really don’t get the choices for Tier 2 and Tier 3.

The Dodgers are Tier 3, but the Astros are Tier 2? They have the same record. The Dodgers are tied with the Sox and Red Sox for most team WAR. The Dodgers have been more unlucky than the Astros (they have the second-best BaseRuns W% after the Sox) and are projected to be better here on out. What gives?

Same goes for the Tier 3 Giants and the Tier 2 Cardinals. Same record. Same projected rest of season record. Giants have a better BaseRuns record.


If it were me, I’d just average together record, BaseRuns record and Projected RoS record. Seems like a good way to balance on the field results, luck and roster strength.

That’d leave tiers of:
1 ————————
White Sox, Mets, Red Sox, Dodgers
2 ————————
Yankees, Giants, Padres, Cardinals
3 ————————
Astros, As, Rays, Cleveland Baseball Team, Brewers, Blue Jays
4 ————————
Reds, Angels, Braves, Phillies
5 ————————
Twins, Nats, Marlins, Mariners, Royals, Cubs, Rangers, Diamondbacks
6 ————————
Orioles, Pirates, Rockies, Tigers

Last edited 1 year ago by 35Shields
As Cirensica

This is wild. Thanks for the link.