At some point during a near-two hour rain delay before first pitch on Tuesday night, the Chicago White Sox and Twins freaky Fridayed it, because Minnesota’s play in an 8-4 loss was dumb all over.
The Twins ran out a tragicomedy of a ballgame, including poor baserunning (Eduardo Escobar being thrown out by Leury García trying to stretch a single), sloppy relief (Ryan Pressly relieving starter Lance Lynn and walking in a run on five pitches, just one of two forced in on the night by Twins hurlers), sloppy D (two errors) and a ridiculous umpire challenge by the infamously redassed Minny manager Paul Molitor. It was as if the White Sox got the chance to play responsible older brother, waiting out Minnesota’s manic, misguided energy, until the Twins just collapsed, spent, helpless to stave off Chicago’s comeback.
To be fair to the White Sox, this game really wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. Minnesota’s four runs off of Reynaldo López were fairly soft. The first two, courtesy of Brian Dozier and No. 9 hitter Ehire Adrianza, were solo shots that came within inches of being caught. Minnesota took the lead back in the fifth with their final two runs, starting the inning with two singles, then a third that glanced off the glove of José Abreu and into right field. A sac fly from Joe Mauer finished Twins scoring.
Ironically, though López wasn’t sharp (6 1⁄3 innings, six hits, four earned, four Ks, walk, two dingers, 44 game score), he cashed in an I.O.U. from either the bullpen or offense from earlier this season, getting the win to improve to 3-5 on the season.
The first White Sox run came in the bottom of the third, and boy, was it a doozy. With Adam Engel on first after a Adrianza error, Yoán Moncada hit a first-pitch screamer to right-center. The exit velocity must have been tasty, because the ball skidded all the way to the wall and for the love of Thunder Road, Moncada could have made it to third standing on the triple. The speed Moncada and Tim Anderson flash on the basepaths is truly Tim-Raines-circa-1991-breathtaking.
Yolmer Sánchez tapped out to Dozier at second, tying the game.
The bottom of the sixth was where Chicago piranha’d the Twins for good, leading off with two infield hits from Matt Davidson and Leury, with Kevan Smith loading the bases on a single that actually made it out of the infield.
With the bases full, cue Pressly’s walk to Anderson — and no beef at home plate ump Gerry Davis, but even the called strike on TA was a ball, and, frankly, Pressly looked terrified out on the mound. After Engel whiffed and Moncada infield flied, it came down to Sánchez to push home a tying or leading run, and at 3-2 with the sacks packed, the pesky third sacker slapped a single to center that scored two and put the Sox up, 5-4.
Chicago piled on in the seventh (Avisaíl García solo shot) and eighth (Yolmer RBI single, pushing home his fourth run of the night, and an Abreu RBI walk).
The bullpen played a heroic role once again, absolute perfection over 2 2⁄3 hitless, three-K innings, from Luis Avilán, Juan Minaya, Jace Fry and Joakim Soria.
The White Sox sit 8 1⁄2 games behind the Twins after tonight’s win, but there’s absolutely nothing about the game tonight that would indicate so. In a season in which Minnesota had designs on the playoffs while the White Sox played out the string, a game like tonight has to be a gut punch to a floundering, rootless Twins team.
Couldn’t happen to a better bunch of guys, if you ask me.