Good thing this one didn't matter. Otherwise, we might be tearing our hair out over this one. The pitching failed, the defense failed, and the offense couldn't capitalize on numerous opportunities to turn the game around.
Best of all -- Luke Hughes scored the game-winning for Minnesota after he was picked off. And actually, that was the second time Hughes should've been out that inning.
The Sox fell behind 4-0, but narrowed the gap to 4-3 as John Danks took the mound for the sixth. With one out, he walked Hughes on a 3-2 pitch that was very, very much a strike. Danks regained control of the situation by getting Joe Benson to fly out to left, and then he picked off Hughes -- his second of the night -- to end the threat.
Except Paul Konerko caught the pickoff throw in such a way that he had to spin before firing. The throw looked good from a directional standpoint, but Alexei Ramirez wasn't quite there yet. And Omar Vizquel wasn't quite there, either. A little bit of hesitation between the two caused the throw to go into left field, and Hughes kept running. He could afford to, because the Juan Pierre-Vizquel relay featured the Sox's two weakest arms. Hughes scored to make it a 5-3 game, and the Sox never ended up tying the game, despite a fair amount of chances.
One inning later, Pierre led off with a walk, and Ramirez doubled him to third, bringing up the heart of the order. That rally fizzled, too. Konerko got jammed and popped out (he's converted one of his last seven opportunities with a runner on third and fewer than two outs), and A.J. Pierzynski rolled one to second, which was only good for one run.
That brought Rios to the plate, and he watched strike three and broke his bat over his knee in an attempt to make up for it. Rios, batting fifth, went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position (although he did have a sac fly), and the Sox were 3-for-16 on the evening.
They let Carl Pavano and Co. off the hook all night long. Danks wasn't so lucky.
He looked fine through the first two innings, but when he walked the .163-hitting Drew Butera with one out in the third, he got what he deserved. Ben Revere singled, and after Danks recorded the second out, he hit Joe Mauer to load the bases.
Danny Valencia then blooped a double down the right-field line to drive in two, and Chris Parmelee followed by roping a double over Rios' head in center for two more. That snapped a streak of 20 consecutive scoreless innings, and the Sox found themselves in quite a hole as a result.
They got two runs back in the fourth. Pierre reached on an error, moved to second on a groundout, and scored on Paul Konerko's single to center. A.J. Pierzynski doubled Konerko to third, and Rios knocked him in with the aforementioned fly to center.
In the fifth, Pierre roped a double down the line to score Omar Vizquel to make it 4-3, and Brent Morel went to third on the play. But Ramirez couldn't cash in Morel, hitting a dribbler back to the mound, and after an intentional walk to Konerko, Pierzynski grounded out to first.
Ozzie Guillen made a couple of odd choices to complicate matters, giving Dylan Axelrod his major-league debut in a close game. Axelrod rewarded his faith by throwing two scoreless innings. He benefited from some great defense, as Ramirez made a sliding over-the-shoulder catch on a flare by Butera, and Morel saved a run with a diving stab on a hot shot to his left.
But even more curious was his decision -- or indecision -- to let Vizquel bat for himself with two outs in the ninth and nobody on. Vizquel hit a soft liner to short to end it, and the season series with Minnesota ended up tied at 9 apiece.