Wow. Was tonight’s game a trippy film from two decades ago, or another heartbreaking loss, a 16th in 21 games now fully forming a Chicago White Sox death march deep into September?
In one version of this game, Tim Anderson clocked a 2-2, center-cut fastball from Minnesota Twins reliever Zack Littell deep into the left-field upper tank to lead off the 11th inning and provide the eventual winning margin. Anderson, who would have four hits on the night to raise his majors-leading average to .336, was in super-swaggy mode for the bomb:
It was the first lead the White Sox had all game.
In yet another version of the contest, the Twins managed to rally for a run off of closer Alex Colomé in the bottom of the 11th (courtesy of a single-fielder’s choice-wild pitch combo that put a runner on third with one out, knocked in by a Mitch Garver sacrifice fly). But in the 12th, with one out and pinch-runner Danny Mendick (after a Zack Collins walk) on first, Ryan Cordell hit a 2-2 weak-sauce, center-cut, 90 mph fastball from Ryne Harper deep to left-center that sent the Minny bullpen scrambling and put the White Sox up, 8-6.
It was the second lead the White Sox had all game.
Sadly, those near-wins are just Mementos of an evaporated past that promised that the White Sox would stirringly snap their malaise and push hard toward 70 wins in the final 11 games of the season.
In reality, however, Minnesota struck for three runs in the 12th to win.
José Ruiz, the unlucky reliever who authored perhaps the most heartbreaking loss of this White Sox season just this past Sunday, took over and immediately found trouble, as a single-double-K-single flurry tied the game back up at 8-8. Two singles later, sacks packed with bad guys, With Ronald Torreyes up, swinging at a gift strike eerily similar to the ball-four pitch that lost Sunday’s game, Ruiz then hit Torreyes in the back (right) forearm with a fastball on 1-1 that drove in the winning run for the Twins.
The magic number to clinch the AL Central falls to seven for the Twins. The magic number for the White Sox seems to peel back from 2020 to 2021 to 2022 — and that’s if we’re lucky.
What a shame to have dropped this one, as Chicago rallied from a 5-0 deficit to tie on the strength of strong offensive play from Adam Engel (2-for-4, game-tying homer in the sixth), José Abreu, Yoán Moncada, James McCann and Yolmer Sánchez (all with two hits), Eloy Jiménez (3-for-7) and Anderson (4-for-6).
Unfortunately, the game should never have been so close, as the White Sox continued a disturbing trend by striking out 14 times against just two walks. And some of the top White Sox sluggers are taking an all-or-nothing approach at this late hour of the season, as all four of Moncada’s outs came via K, and three of Jiménez’s four.
As for pitching, if you throw out the bookenders of the game (Ross Detwiler with five earned in five innings, Ruiz with three earned in the space of one out), the firemen did well: six innings, just three hits and one earned run, two walks and six Ks. Unfortunately, the earned run was Colomé’s in the 11th, droppeding the game into the Ruiz Zone.
It’s a third straight chilly Minny oddball gametime tomorrow, 6:40 p.m., with the broadcast on NBCSCH and WGN-AM. The White Sox are just within a whisker of a 70-win pace and will have to go 5-6 the rest of the way to ensure it.
It was a Pearceing loss, if ever there was one.