Tonight, Robin Ventura stayed away from Duke and Jones, only to see why Dan Jennings and Matt Albers offer no respite for good relievers ... and the Sox still won.
In order to do so, they had to overcome one stomach punch, then sidestep their second shrimp in as many days before Dioner Navarro of all people scored the decisive run with a double in the 10th. They also benefited from a questionable decision from Paul Molitor in the ninth inning that allowed the tying run to score.
The Sox found themselves needing to tie the game in the ninth because Dan Jennings walked a batter, and Matt Albers did him one better with a walk and a three-run homer, turning a 4-2 lead into a 5-4 deficit, and another fine Miguel Gonzalez start into a no-decision (he truly is the Poor Man’s Poor Jose Quintana).
But they did, starting with a one-out Tim Anderson double. After Tyler Saladino struck out, the Twins could have pitched around Melky Cabrera to pick on Jose Abreu. Instead, Kintzler tried to pitch Cabrera carefully, but made the mistake of throwing four consecutive sinkers away. He elevated the fourth on a 2-1 count, and Cabrera lined it into left field to score Anderson. Abreu then grounded out harmlessly to short to cap an 0-for-5 night, making the decision look bad in hindsight.
It looked like the single only served to set up the second consecutive walk-off walk, as Michael Ynoa, pitching for the first time since July 17, looked like a rookie with rust. He gave up a leadoff double, was bailed out by a botched Byron Buxton bunt before striking out Robbie Grossman for the second out. Robin Ventura chose to pitch around Joe Mauer, but the four-pitch intentional walk led to a four-pitch uintentional walk to load the bases for Brian Dozier.
Ynoa started Dozier off with a ninth consecutive ball before getting a called strike at the bottom of the zone. The count teetered in Dozier’s favor after an errant curve, but Dozier couldn’t do anything with a fastball count, popping out to third to spare the Sox bullpen further ignominy.
(I presume that Jones didn't pitch because he's thrown eight times in 11 games. Duke's absence was noteworthy, although at this time of year, it's fair to wonder if he's being held out of games due to trade talks.)
The Sox then took the lead off Fernando Abad, with Avisail Garcia leading off with a double, then scoring on Navarro’s double two batters later. In came David Robertson, whose pinpoint command yielded three weak batted balls and three outs for his 25th save.
Miguel Gonzalez had nothing to show for his night, which was another sterling effort. He allowed just two runs over seven innings, and only one was earned because the White Sox defense collapsed behind him in the second. First, Buxton took advantage of some lax play by Saladino, who took his time with the throw, then rushed it low and wide to Abreu, who should’ve caught it but didn’t. The error went to Abreu, but Saladino started it.
Buxton then stole second, took third when Navarro bounced the throw into center field, then broke for home when J.B. Shuck couldn’t find the handle on it. Shuck made a good throw home, but Navarro dropped the ball while applying the tag. Navarro was charged with two errors on the play, but the scorer could’ve tagged Shuck with one.
Gonzalez shook off the error to throw seven strong innings. He had his customary struggles in the seventh, but he limited the damage of two inning-starting singles to just one run, and spared the thin bullpen from having to cover an extra frame.
The White Sox bounced back, too, hitting Tommy Milone for the third straight start and hopefully putting an old line to rest. They flipped the switch in the middle innings, and with two outs
In the fourth, Justin Morneau followed Garcia’s two-out double with one of his own to tie the game.
In the fifth, Cabrera followed two-out singles by Anderson and Saladino with a laced double to left center, scoring both.
In the sixth, Morneau broke the mold, homering to right instead of doubling, and with one out instead of two. The Sox ended up outhitting the Twins 15-8, even without the services of Adam Eaton (day off) and Todd Frazier (flu).
*Outside of the three-error inning, the Sox played pretty good defense. Carlos Sanchez made three tough plays at second, and Garcia ran down a deep drive by Buxton to save a run in the fifth inning.
*That catch avenged earlier robbery by Buxton on Cabrera. Cabrera hit two hard line drives to the track in left center, but his first attempt was tracked down by Buxton, who did not have to leave his feet.