Why would the White Sox schedule Paul Konerko Day when the Twins are in town? It's like they're asking for it.
If there was any inclination on the part of Trevor May or Chris Sale to be a bit more deliberate in the early going, it wasn't noticeable. Afternoon games at The Cell bring disruptive shadows between the mound and the plate on sunny days, and at that point all bets are off. It becomes increasingly difficult for hitters to pick up the ball.
As a result the Twins were aggressive early, with both Torii Hunter and Eduardo Nunez taking Sale deep in the top of the second for solo home runs. Hunter caught up with a 96mph fastball on the inner half. He was clearly waiting for it, and Hunter got around quickly to yank it into the left field seats on a frozen rope. Two batters later Nunez got ahold of his, launching his first bomb of the season and spotting May a 2-0 lead.
Chicago got one back but Minnesota struck for another pair in the top of the third inning, including a single for Trevor Plouffe off of his shoelaces that he lucked into shallow left-center. The White Sox would answer again, this time with their town two-spot thanks to Adam Eaton taking a hanging breaking ball the other way. It dribbled down the right field line and Eaton was in with an easy triple.
But that was the end of the scoring for both teams, and it may have been May's only hanger of the afternoon. By the middle innings of the game the shadows had crept their way onto the infield and both pitchers would go on cruise control. After the third, Sale would only allow a single and a walk on his way to an eight-inning, ten-strikeout performance. May's off-speed stuff was brilliant again and through seven strong innings he struck out nine and didn't issue a single walk.
The biggest play in the late going may have come in the bottom of the eighth inning. By that point both May and Sale were in complete control of the contest, and Aaron Thompson was in to bridge the gap to the ninth. On his very first pitch, Eaton drove a slider screaming into the right-center field gap. Aaron Hicks, for the second game in a row, made the defensive play of the game.
Hicks didn't have a good game at the dish, going 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts. But since his return to the Twins he's been better, and nowhere has that been illustrated more clearly than in the field. If Hicks doesn't make this catch it's at least a triple, giving Chicago the tying run on third base with nobody out. This catch changed the entire complexion of the game's final two innings. Thompson and Blaine Boyer combined to get outs two and three to hand the game over to Glen Perkins.
Perkins allowed a two-out single and walk, with Alexei Ramirez stealing third. But Perkins froze Tyler Flowers with a called strike on the inner black to shut it down. The Twins win again and are back to six games over .500 at 24-18.
Damn this team is fun to watch right now!
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