OK, so now we know why the Twins are now nine games under .500.
The White Sox didn’t post their best effort. Yoán Moncada let a pop foul drop to the ground for no real reason, a miscue that didn’t count as an error but opened the door for two runs. Nick Madrigal bobbled a grounder and panic-flipped to the wrong bag to open the door for a late-inning crooked number. Dylan Cease wasn’t at his best, and the bullpen wobbled from the right side.
And yet they won by six runs, because the Twins managed to be equal or worse in all facets.
The starting pitchers both gave up three runs over five innings, all in the second. Dylan Cease gave up three runs in the top of the second. Jorge Polanco roped a piped fastball out of the park for a 1-0 lead, but when Trevor Larnach appeared to pop out in foul territory for the second out, Moncada failed to take charge on a ball that dropped only several feet away from him to keep the at-bat alive, and Larnach instead walked. Two singles loaded the bases, Cease plunked a backup catcher on an 0-2 pitch to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead, and then Luis Arraez’s sac fly made it 3-0, with Andrelton Simmons running into a pointless out at third for the 9-4-5 double play.
The White Sox erased that lead as quickly as they could off Kenta Maeda, with José Abreu singling, Yermín Mercedes walking, and Yasmani Grandal driving them both in with a no-doubter over the Minnesota bullpen to tie the game at 3. That inning also ended with an out on the basepaths, as Arraez cut down Andrew Vaughn at home on Tim Anderson’s single. It was a good two-out send by Joe McEwing that forced Minnesota to execute, but everybody involved got the job done.
The Sox ended the game with nine unanswered runs, with the last six of them coming after Minnesota’s bullpen arrived. Maeda retired the last nine he faced to get through five, while Cease stranded two runners in the third and fifth inning. He ended his night on a high note, avenging the gopher ball to Polanco with a feathery changeup that ended a seven-pitch battle for his seventh strikeout.
Minnesota’s bullpen provided immediate relief to the other team. Jorge Alcala replaced Maeda in the sixth, walked Moncada with one out, then served up a two-run blast to Abreu for the lead the Sox maintained the rest of the way.
Further insurance was required because the White Sox bullpen couldn’t quite lock it down immediately. Matt Foster left runners on the corners and one out for Garrett Crochet in the sixth. In his first outing since his brief trip to the injured list, Crochet 1) threw his fastest fastball at the year at 99.4, and 2) had two overpowering pitches. He used the heater to induce a too-shallow flyout from Mitch Garver for the second out, then locked up Arraez with a sharp slider to end the threat.
An inning later, Tony La Russa had to turn to another lefty after Codi Heuer alternated outs and singles. Aaron Bummer had to get the job done twice, as his first grounder handcuffed Madrigal, who flipped the ball way too late to second when the play was still alive at first. That loaded the bases with a two-run margin, but Anderson gloved Willans Astudillo’s first-pitch one-hopper and fired across the diamond with enough time for Abreu to come off the bag and still make the tag.
That’s why the Sox had two more two-run innings in them. In the seventh, Andrew Vaughn led off with a walk. Billy Hamilton replaced him and moved to second on one of Leury García’s automated sac bunts, but Hamilton stole third. Madrigal’s attempt to drop a ball over the head of a drawn-in first baseman turned into a too-shallow flyout, but Tim Anderson got around on an inside pitch and dropped it into left field for a key RBI single. The Twins then added a layer of absurdity by literally kicking an Adam Eaton blooper into an RBI triple (or a double with a one-base error).
The other pair of runs came in the eighth, when Abreu was plunked, gingerly took second on a Mercedes single, gingerly took third while holding his cup on a fielder’s choice, and took his time scoring on García’s punched single through the shifted left side. Madrigal made up for his previous failure with another RBI single, and the Sox scored nine runs for the fourth time in six games, driving up their league-leading run differential to +59.
*Abreu stayed in and recorded the final out of the game on a 3-unassisted, although he once again limped to the bag. The Caleb Thielbar curveball hit him on the inside of his knee, so maybe it struck a nerve.
*Eaton was doubled off first base, taking two steps too many toward second on a Moncada line drive for a TOOTBLAN.
*Hamilton entered as a pinch runner, stole a base and scored two runs, which is what you want from the role.
*Cease got 20 swinging strikes on 92 pitches even without his best command. He allowed four free bases (two walks, two HBPs), but this is a better kind of his struggling self. He threw a couple of beautiful hammers.
*Cleveland beat the Cubs to remain a game behind, while the Royals lost a ninth straight game to give the appearance of a two-team race.
Record: 20-13 | Box score | Statcast
Ruiz has been a nice surprise in the bullpen so far.Let’s hope we get some more kicks out Ruiz 66 relief appearances this year.
I’m glad to see him succeeding finally. Like Bummer early on in his career, it felt like the results weren’t quite matching the stuff. Dunno how much staying power he has, but with Foster, Heuer, and Marshall all struggling out of the gate, it’s been a pretty big deal that he’s stepped up to fill the void.
He has been a nice surprise. I’d be interested in trying him in some medium-sized leverage roles to see how he performs. He has been making quick work of these low-leverage roles. Foster just doesn’t have it right now.
I was thinking the exact same thing last night…
Ruiz has the tendency to get whomped by the Peter Principle, but it doesn’t help that he’s gone from low leverage to extra innings in previous attempts.
thats a good point, maybe its time to dip his toe in the water as oppose to jumping right in, I think the matt foster role of the 6th or 7th inning of a tight game might be the next step
pens are always flukey like this, one year a guy has it and another doesn’t gotta ride the hot hands
Yeah, I like going with the hot hand. I would flip the current roles of Foster and Ruiz until one of them proves it’s a mistake.
It’s really easy to forget that he’s only been a pitcher for about 4 years.
I either hope 1) Jose is totally fine tomorrow, or 2) TLR isn’t afraid to force Jose to take a rest day when he needs it.
There’s no need to play Abreu tonight. Given the team’s success against LHP, it seems like a good day to sit him without losing much in the lineup.
If Eaton needs the night off too, play Vaughn at 1B and make a one time exception to my “no Hamilton/Garcia tandems” with Mendick as the third OF.
Or leave Vaughn in LF and let Collins catch with Grandal playing first (but I assume Collins will be saved for tomorrow’s righty).
Mercedes could play 1B too
Has anybody heard any update on Engel aside from the setback they announced 10 day ago? Seems like he’s on his way to missing 1/3 to 1/2 a season, for a pulled hamstring, for real? Who would have thought that Eaton would be their only healthy outfielder for 2021!
I believe they were hoping for a late May/early June return.
Man it feels good to pound the Twins. Don’t stop now boys!!!!
It was great to see Crochet hit 99 with the fastball, but man, the slider to get Arraez might have been the best pitch a Sox reliever has thrown this year. That thing was gorgeous.
It is also nice to see Bummer back to his old self. When Bummer is on I’m so relaxed watching him. I just sit back and watch how he will get the outs.
This pictures says it all about the Twins on-going season:
When I saw that I pictured Michael Cuddyer hitting a duck snort against us and I shuttered a bit.