Gavin Floyd entered tonight's start 0-8 with an 8.85 ERA in his last eight starts against the Twins. Joe Mauer owned him in particular, reaching base in 15 consecutive plate appearances.
So maybe when Floyd struck out Mauer with a down-and-in slider with a runner on third in his first plate appearance, that was a sign that things were going to be different. Boy howdy.
Floyd not only threw seven innings. Floyd not only threw seven scoreless innings. No, Floyd threw seven, scoreless, efficient innings. He needed only 95 pitches, even though he faced a few jams. He pitched around a leadoff double in the first. He stranded two runners in scoring position in the second. He stranded a one-out double in the third.
Eventually, he settled down to retire nine in a row, and he did it commanding both sides of his plate. He worked the fastball and cutter in and curves away to the lefty-heavy lineup, and given a little bit of room off the corner by home plate umpire MIke Everitt, he took full advantage.
Floyd struck out nine batters and didn't walk anybody. He did plunk Ryan Doumit -- with two outs, nobody on, and after Doumit pretended the first pitch grazed his shin. So that made it kind of funny.
And thanks to just enough offense, Floyd took home his first win against Minnesota since July 11, 2009.
The White Sox lineup still doesn't look right -- Liam Hendricks (anagram: Danish Milker) and his 7.39 ERA threw 6 1/3 solid inning, after all. But Alex Rios and Alexei Ramirez keep hitting, and that provided enough for the pitching tonight.
After Paul Konerko walked in the fourth, Rios jumped on an 0-1 hanger for a second-deck shot. His ninth homer of the year gave the Sox a 2-0 lead.
In the seventh, Rios led off with an infield single off Hendricks' foot. He stole second, and two batters later, scored when Alexei Ramirez dropped a duck-snort single to right.
That run turned out to be crucial, because the Twins finally established themselves as the Twins in the ninth inning, and made Addison Reed sweat for his save. Two outs, runner on first and a 3-0 lead turned to two outs, runners on first and second and a 3-2 lead thanks to the Twin Variety Pack -- a bloop double, a hit-by-pitch on an 0-2 count, and a soft line-drive single that cashed in a pair.
That brought the pesky Denard Span to the plate, and he had doubled and just missed a homer (the foul ball survived a review) earlier in the game. This time, Span could only ground out to second to make our evenings so much easier.
- A Tyler Flowers lineout to short turned into a fielder's choice when it was ruled that Carroll didn't maintain possession of the ball to the ground. The Sox replaced a good baserunner in Alexei Ramirez for a plodder in Flowers ... and then Flowers stole second.
- With his 11th steal, Rios has matched his 2011 stolen base total.
- Kevin Youkilis went 1-for-4 again, and made a great jump-throw on a soft groundout down the line to retire Mauer.
- Floyd struck out Mauer in his second plate appearance, but Mauer touched him for a single the third time around. But the bases were empty, so, who cares.