From the bottom half of the first inning on, this looked like a game played by a team that has spent just about all of recent memory on the road. The way the game ended didn't do anything to disprove that concept.
After Danny Valencia singled to left off Brett Myers to start the inning, Brian Dozier dropped down a sac bunt. It was a good bunt -- about 20 feet up the first base line -- and Myers and Pierzynski both went to play it. It showed that they hadn't worked together much. Myers and Pierzynski both pursued the ball with a little bit of indecision, and while Pierzynski eventually took charge, Myers was kinda cramping his style. Pierzynski's awkward throw went high and wide, Casilla moved to third, and Jamey Carroll hit a sac fly to right to end the game.
Then again, maybe it's a blessing this game didn't go to extra innings, because the Sox looked a little bit homesick.
For instance, Jose Quintana took a long time to get sharp -- he immediately gave up a 4-0 lead, and needed three innings to figure out how to get the ball in and/or down. He had a pretty clean fourth, fifth and sixth, which allowed him to escape the proceedings with a no-decision when he probably deserved a loss.
Then again, his support was kind of sketchy. Alexei Ramirez didn't come up with a difficult play on a Denard Span chopper that started that four-run rally, and then couldn't make a difficult double play turn. A traditional shortstop would have made the throw by jumping and allowing his legs to be taken out. Ramirez spun out of the way, then tried to fire a throw upon his full revolution, and ended up gunning it wide. The error allowed a run to score, Ryan Doumit took second, and then came around to score on a single to tie the game.
Quintana gave up a couple more runs in the third, with De Aza giving up extra bases when he booted a charge. When he cleaned up his act and made a good throw home to save a run, even that didn't come easy. He hit the cutoff man, which caught Ryan Doumit in a pickle. What followed might've been the ugliest rundown that resulted in an out -- 8-3-4-6-3-4. They had divided their attention on making sure Justin Morneau didn't break from third to home, but also, whenever the ball is thrown to Paul Konerko and he has to run, that's two more throws.
And then Morneau came around to score on a single anyway.
The Sox didn't get as many favors from their opponents when they were at the plate. They hit Cole De Vries hard, with Pierzynski, back from the DL, crushing a three-run homer in the first inning.
But from that point on, the Sox's hard-hit balls found Minnesota gloves. In the second, De Aza smoked a liner right at Justin Morneau with Gordon Beckham on second. One inning later, De Vries threw a 1-2-3 inning with Paul Konerko scalding a liner to third, and Carroll making a diving stop on a hard Alex Rios grounder up the middle.
Span topped them all in the fifth. Rios followed up a Konerko HBP with a deep drive to left that looked like it might give the Sox a 7-6 lead, but Span made a leaping catch at the wall to keep Konerko frozen at first. It didn't rob Rios of a homer, but it definitely took away a double. At U.S. Cellular Field, that ball would have been five rows deep -- another reason why they need to get home.
De Aza found a way to get the game tied, at least. He hit an RBI single to right in the fourth, but saved a more impressive sequence for his game-tying single in the eighth. With Alexei Ramirez on first after a HBP, De Aza took two Jared Burton pitches out of the zone, which allowed Ramirez to steal second. After Burton came back to even the count, De Aza smacked a single to center to drive home Ramirez.
In his return from a two-game break, De Aza went 4-for-5 (with 24 pitches seen), scoring one run, driving in two, and stealing his 19th base.
Dayan Viciedo gave Matt Thornton some defense with a great catch right at the left-field wall, robbing Joe Mauer of extra bases and keeping the bases clear in the eighth.
- Rios got his revenge on Span by playing a carom off the wall and making a perfect throw to second to nail him.
- The Twins continued to pitch the Sox inside, hitting three batters with high and tight pitches, and spinning around another.