Watching the way they played defense tonight, that wasn't a problem. The Sox turned a slugfest into a laugher, although it almost turned back into a slugfest after the teams exchanged HBPs in the eighth inning.
Mat Latos didn't quite outclass Ricky Nolasco, but he improved to 5-0 nevertheless thanks to fantastic defense and an offense that scored the runs it couldn't cash in against Boston the night before. He started with a 1-2-3 inning, but after the Sox gave him a 2-0 cushion with a two-run Melky Cabrera double, Latos had every intent of using the margin for error provided.
When the Twins threatened to answer with two runs in their own in the top of the second, Tyler Saladino made a tremendous pick behind second to throw out a hobbling Eduardo Escobar for the third out, keeping a one-run lead for Latos.
When Eduardo Nunez threatened to start a rally in the third with extra bases, Adam Eaton added to his gaudy metrics with the kind of running catch that's now becoming ordinary for him.
And when Nunez stood on second with nobody out in the fifth inning, Cabrera and Eaton ran down deep drives to limit the Twins to a single manufactured run and preserve a 5-4 lead.
Latos was worse than his line indicated -- 5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR -- but that's because he spent a lot of the game pitching from behind, giving his innings an even more ominous feel. The good news? He had more swinging strikes on his fastball tonigtht than he had all season.
Plus, well, he got the win, because Nolasco caved in first.
Nolasco gave up three crooked numbers over his five innings. He gave up the double to Cabrera in the first, a two-run single by Eaton in the second (during which Tyler Saladino scored from first, as Joe McEwing waved him home when the throw went to second to get Eaton).
Jose Abreu tacked on a solo shot in the third, but Nolasco still had a pitch count on his side after getting through the fourth.
Eaton, however, led off the fifth with a triple, and though the Sox took forever to cash in that opportunity -- an infield single and two groundouts couldn't get it done -- Cabrera and Brett Lawrie each came through with run-scoring singles to give the Sox a 7-4 lead, after which they could breathe easily.
From that point on, it became more of a game for gawkers. The Sox added three in the seventh, and all after two outs. They loaded the bases with two singles and a walk, and all three runners scored. The first crossed the plate when Fernando Abad knocked down Dioner Navarro's comebacker, but couldn't tell where it went (resting next to his feet). Saladino scored two runs in a more direct route, knocking a single through the middle.
In the eighth, Nate Jones clipped Byung Ho Park with a fastball, spinning him to the ground. The Twins responded by using Trevor May to plunk Abreu, which Abreu did not appreciate -- perhaps because there was no reason that Jones might've hit Park on purpose. Abreu had some words for the pitcher, and the benches cleared.
Nothing came of it except an ejection for Robin Ventura, and from the CSN Chicago broadcast, it might've been because May announced his intent over the course of the discourse. Whatever the case, things cooled down enough that when Scott Carroll started the ninth by plunking Kurt Suzuki on the butt with a sinker, nobody reacted.
*In the sixth, Austin Jackson robbed Park of extra bases by snaring his drive to right center, making up for the triple he couldn't reel in the night before.
*Cabrera was the star, going 4-for-5 with a double, a run and three RBIs, along with the catch.
*Everybody had a hit except Todd Frazier,w ho went 0-for-5 with a strikeout.
*Avisail Garcia continues to show signs of life at DH, going 1-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored.
*The Sox are 4-0 against Minnesota and 11½ games up in the standings.