Tonight provided more evidence for that case. Given a day to shake off the sorrow, the Sox simply out-talented the Twins. They didn't play their best game -- they grounded into way too many double plays -- but they still won handily.
And Chris Sale was the most talented guy on the field. He threw seven beautiful innings, allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out six. He didn't waste too many pitches (97 total), even with a small strike zone, because he had all three pitches working. As a result, the Twins could only put pressure on him one time all night.
Actually, Gordon Beckham put pressure on Sale first. He mishandled a spin-laden grounder by Darin Mastroianni to allow the leadoff hitter to reach. Sale followed by walking Joe Mauer (tight strike zone), but he came back by getting Josh Willingham to ground into a double play. With his feet back under him, he struck out Justin Morneau to end the threat.
It definitely helps when two of the Twins' 4-5-6 combo is left-handed. Mauer hung in there OK against Sale, but Morneau couldn't figure him out. He chased pitches high and wide for two strikeouts, and bounced out to first in his third chance.
The Sox gradually supported their starter, although they received plenty of help from some clumsy Minnesota defense.
Jamey Carroll started the game by botching both grounders his way. Alejandro De Aza's hard shot was generously ruled a single, but Carroll was charged with the error when he booted a double play ball to put runners on the corners. Adam Dunn cashed De Aza in with a single to give the Sox a 1-0 lead.
Alex Rios grounded into a double play to end the inning, and that would become a common sighting. The Sox grounded into three of them over the first four innings, and narrowly avoided going 4-for-4. But Rios made up for it in the fourth, backing up Paul Konerko's bloop single with a line-drive, two run blast into the White Sox bullpen, giving the Sox some breathing room.
The Twins then resumed choking. After Konerko led off the sixth with a single, Rios hit a high fly to right that Mastroianni misplayed rather comically. A.J. Pierzynski then drove Konerko home with a laced double to right, putting runners on second and third with nobody out.
After Dayan Viciedo grounded out to third, Ron Gardenhire contributed to the cause. He called for an intentional walk of the struggling Alexei Ramirez to load the bases for Orlando Hudson. Hudson hit a weak chopper, and Carroll's only play was first. So the run scored anyway, and the Sox had two runners in scoring position instead of one.
Alejandro De Aza struck out to keep the score at 5-0, but Konerko would get the sixth run by jumping on a hanging 0-2 curve from Alex Burnett for his
eighth ninth homer of the year. Konerko went 3-for-4 with three runs scored.
Jesse Crain (two singles) and Matt Thornton (two walks) each pitched around a pair of baserunners to complete the shutout.
- Pierzynski finally failed to sucker Doug Eddings into a bad call, as Eddings called him out for interference on a takeout slide. Pierzynski argued the call, but the replay showed that he was well away from second base, and made no effort to touch it. The Twins were awarded their final double play of the night.
- Hudson's first start was a successful one. He went 1-for-4 with an RBI, and his strikeout should have been a walk were it not for a generous outside strike call from Kerwin Danley. He also made two fine plays in the field.
- The Sox prevented a loss from turning into a losing streak for the first time since April 19.