During Omar Narvaez’s at-bat in the eighth inning, Hawk Harrelson had already written off this game as a loss — not for the White Sox, but for baseball.
"This might be ... all year ... the worst game we have seen played by both teams," Harrelson. "Both teams have played a bad ballgame."
If you just joined the broadcast at that juncture, it might have surprised you. After all, the Sox trailed 6-4, but 1) they scored four runs, and 2) had the tying runs at first and second.
But if you saw the line score, it’d tell you most of what you needed to know. The Twins committed four errors and won. More than that, they should’ve had five errors. More than that, they never trailed.
The White Sox didn’t commit as many physical mistakes, but the ones they had their share of brain farts. Melky Cabrera singled home Adam Eaton from first, but Tim Anderson was caught well off second when the throw from center went there, ending the inning. Todd Frazier forced Robin Ventura to challenge a play at first when he dropped the ball on the transfer. The call was reversed, but it shouldn’t have even been a thing, except Frazier forgot how many outs there were.
The biggest mistake the White Sox made? Throwing fastballs to Brian Dozier. He led off the game with a double on a fastball, then came around to score. Carlos Rodon tried a higher fastball on him in the fifth inning, and he hit it off the face of the second deck in left. In the seventh, Carson Fulmer then fell behind 1-0, and Dozier seized advantage of the count with another solo blast. The first hit set up a three-run first for Minnesota, and the homers represented the margin of victory.
The White Sox didn’t have those quick strikes in their bag, and they needed them. Instead, rallies wheezed long enough — with the Twins defense providing life support -- until Carlos Sanchez came to the plate.
For instance, in the fourth, Omar Narvaez knocked a two-out RBI single to center, which turned into two runs when Eddie Rosario’s attempt to get Tyler Saladino at third sailed into the camera well. Sanchez then flied out to center.
Or, in the eighth, Melky Cabrera came around to score when second baseman Jorge Polanco booted a potential fielder’s choice at second. Michael Tonkin came in and got a flyout by Saladino, followed by a weak grounder to the left side by Narvaez. Miguel Sano screened Eduardo Escobar into a non-error to load the bases for Sanchez -- shortly after Harrelson was calling it the worst game he's seen all year for both teams, as luck would have it. Luck carried them no further, as Sanchez’s firm grounder found Kennys Vargas’ mitt for the final out.
That’s about how the Sox offense functioned. The top five in the order reached base 10 times, but only once for extra bases (a Cabrera double in the ninth inning), limiting their impact. The bottom of the order went 2-for-16, and one of those hits should’ve been an error. That’s been a trademark of their offense for years -- rallies limp along until it gets to the bottom of the order, and everybody comes away unsatisfied. Sanchez was 2016’s Tyler Flowers.
Rodon’s return to the mound from a sprained wrist was uneven. He needed a couple innings for his fastball to find some sizzle, and the Twins took advantage of the flat stuff in the first for three quick runs, putting five on Rodon’s tab overall. On the plus side, he pitched into the seventh inning on just 99 pitches after throwing 27 in the first, and he threw strikes on 68 of 99 pitches, resulting in seven strikeouts. Fulmer was the only reliever used, and with an extra day tomorrow, Nate Jones is actually getting a proper break.