Today's game came down to one play missed, and one play made. Even if you missed the game, you know which team missed the play.
Hector Santiago was on the verge of escaping a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation when, after a shallow fly took care of the first out, he got Justin Morneau to hit a grounder past the third-base side of the mound. Alexei Ramirez was shaded toward second. He ranged toward the bag, snagged the ball with his glove, and tried to make his usual flip to second to start a 6-4-3.
Instead, Ramirez stubbed his glove on the ground and left the ball behind him. Instead of getting two outs, the White Sox allowed the Twins to cut the 2-0 lead in half. And Ramirez's inability to get even one out meant that the ensuing fly to center went as a game-tying sac fly, instead of an inning-ending out.
And then Santiago made his own pain by falling behind Trevor Plouffe 3-0, then throwing him a grooved fastball that Plouffe shot into the left-center gap to make it a 4-2 game.
Cut to the sixth inning. The White Sox trailed 5-2, but mounted a rally that already brought in one run. Josh Roenicke relieved Pedro Hernandez and struck out Dayan Viciedo on a too-high curve for the second out. Adam Dunn followed, and put a good swing on a 1-1 cutter, launching it toward center field, or just left of it.
That happens to be the deepest part of the park, and it was hit high enough for center fielder Aaron Hicks to get to the wall, leap, and save it from hitting the flower bed in center. Instead of a 5-5 tie, the Twins held a 5-3 lead.
Then Hicks came up in the bottom of the sixth and hit his second homer of the game, effectively putting it out of reach. As a fitting epitaph, they Sox allowed four eighth-inning runs thanks to two non-error errors. The inning started when a high pop-up in shallow center resulted in this scene:
Heath then allowed the Twins to turn a sac bunt into a single by taking too long to glove Pedro Florimon's bunt, and exchange it to his throwing hand. That mistake was erased with a nifty 3-2-4 double play (Dunn of all people made a couple difficult plays tonight), but Heath then followed an intentional walk with an unintentional one to bring in a run. Morneau's bases-clearing double was the injury to insult.
The defense continues to make the pitching look worse than it is -- and Santiago didn't even look that good. He struggled with command of his breaking ball and screwball, and even missed a number of spots with his fastball. But hey, if the defense made the required plays behind him, it's hard to say if any runs would have scored. He did allow the two Hicks homers, but who knows how the game proceeds if Ramirez makes that play. Butterfly effect and all that.
On the other side, White Sox hitters continue to make opposing pitchers feel at home. Pedro Hernandez didn't have much of anything -- the Sox tagged him for two first-inning runs, then blistered a couple balls in the second. But then he retired 10 in a row, which at least carried him into the sixth. Santiago went an out longer, but it didn't do him any good in the win/loss column.
*Alejandro De Aza and Ramirez each contributed three hits at the top of the order.
*Dayan Viciedo batted cleanup, with Paul Konerko taking the day off, even with a soft-tossing lefty on the mound.
*Conor Gillaspie, coming off a sinus infection, came to the plate with the bases loaded in the top of the eighth as a pinch-hitter for Jeff Keppinger. He grounded out to first base on the first pitch.
*Somewhere in there, Tyler Flowers dropped a pop-up near the Twins dugout.