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Twins 6, White Sox 3 (10 innings): It’s time to sink or swim, and the life raft has a hole in it

Coaching and fundamental mistakes reach crisis point, as Chicago fails to breach .500 for 35th consecutive game

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Chicago White Sox
Base-running can be hard.
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Despite numerous opportunities, the White Sox were unable to provide any kind of emotional salve on what’s been a somber and heart-wrenching Independence Day for the Chicagoland area, losing to the division rival Twins, 6-3, in 10 innings, once again falling back to two games worse than .500 and 5 12 games back in the division.

Johnny Cueto took the ball for the South Siders and, as has generally been the case during his as-yet short stint in black-and-white pinstripes (or whatever red-white-and-puke monstrosities they broke out today — where’s Chris Sale when you really need him?), he gave the team a golden opportunity to win, working six innings with a two-run homer from (you guessed it) Byron Buxton finishing as the only dings on his line despite five walks and four other hits. It’s Cueto’s seventh quality start out of 10 turns in the rotation — the most on the team.

As has also generally been the case for the White Sox this year, their offense was stifled by entirely unremarkable soft-tossing right-handed pitcher, allowing Dylan Bundy — whose quality starts on June 18 and 24 were his very first of the year — to shut them down to the tune of three hits over five innings, with just a single run crossing the plate courtesy of José Abreu’s 10th home run this season.

Looking at the box score, you might judge that those two home runs, along with a clutch but relatively unremarkable seventh inning RBI single from Yoán Moncada, were the only noteworthy things to occur in this game before the Twins took matters into their own hands in extras.

Dear reader, if you were correct, would it even be the 2022 White Sox?

This loss falls squarely on the heads of the White Sox and nobody but the White Sox, a fact that tonight’s umpiring crew should be thankful of. The aforementioned Moncada RBI single was presaged by an Abreu double to lead off the inning, a double which was only possible due to the New York replay room’s utterly inexplicable decision to not award Abreu first base on what was pretty clearly a hit-by-pitch:

When the subsequent 3-2 double was followed by a Gavin Sheets walk and Moncada’s excellent piece of two-strike hitting, the pieces appeared to be falling in place for the Sox to kick off a long-awaited charge up the Sisyphean hill that is the AL Central.

Of course, it wouldn’t make sense to describe it as Sisyphean if the boulder didn’t come tumbling straight back over the White Sox the second they neared the top.

Ladies and gentlemen and everyone in between, I present to you the very first 8-5 triple play ever seen:

Naturally, Adam Engel and Moncada are going to take the majority of the flak for this play. They simply made a bad read and got hung out to dry in a way that shouldn’t be acceptable in these scenarios.

That being said, it’s also worth asking: what in the name of Jehovah almighty are Daryl Boston and Joe McEwing doing on the field if not to correct that mistake and get them back on base?

Because of both the angle and the spin imparted on the ball, it’s often hard to get a read on batted balls hit to center field. In this case in particular, it probably didn’t help anybody that Buxton’s route was rather circuitous. Baserunners have to process a lot of information on any given play — enough information that they often have to make a decision on whether to run, tag, or stay put before they even know for sure whether it’s the right decision. Again, the entire reason that multiple non-players are on the field in a baseball uniform is so that players have a safety net to avoid doing things like, say, running into a triple play when the go-ahead run is in position to be 90 feet away from home with less than two outs.

Hey, at least Liam Hendriks is back and looking as sharp as ever! As deflating as the triple play may have been, the emergence of Hendriks to strike out the side in the eighth inning was as close to a “hey, they can win this!” boost as we would receive for the rest of the night. There was a moment following Engel’s two-out walk in the ninth inning where redemption felt like it may have been in the air, but whatever air it might have been was vacuumed straight out of Guaranteed Rate Field when Engel promptly got himself thrown out attempting to move himself back into scoring position:

Kendall Graveman proceeded to come on for a scoreless ninth, but the opportunities had already been presented and blown. Joe Kelly was unable to make it a perfect night for Rick Hahn’s vaunted bullpen triumvirate — three consecutive scoreless innings being a little too much to ask from a $50 million relief corps, it seems — allowing a pair of walks and hits each to the top of the Twins’ lineup, turning a single ghost-runner into a four-run affair that sent fans heading for the exits before the Sox even had a chance to hit.

And if getting ejected on a clearly correct ball-and-strike call with his team already behind in extra innings is Tony La Russa’s version of trying to fire up his guys, he’s going to need some more lighter fluid.

With triple-digit phenom Jhoan Duran on to close things out for the visitors, AJ Pollock managed to score Engel with a one-out hit to right field, cutting the lead to 6-3. That was all the Pale Hose would get tonight, as a Leury García ground out and Tim Anderson strikeout sandwiched Seby Zavala’s second single of the game to put things in the record books.

The White Sox are 38-40, 5 12 games back of the Twins in first place and two games back of the Cleveland Guardians for second. On Tuesday, Chris Archer (2-3, 3.08 ERA) takes the hill for the Twins, while the Sox counter with Michael Kopech (2-5, 2.78 ERA) in an attempt to keep the season afloat. I’d say that we’re watching the Titanic sink before our eyes, but the last three months have shown that the rebuilt White Sox were far from the Titanic — they’re simply a beat-up boat whose patches have done nothing but spring leaks for the entire season.

Godspeed, Sox fans.