If the Twins want to get to October, all they need to do is keep winning series. Losing a tough one to the White Sox today is disappointing, but taking two of three will get the job done. The Rangers were off today, so the Twins drop just half a game and are now 1.5 games back of Texas for the second Wild Card spot.
Kyle Gibson wasn't bad today. A couple of early hits put the White Sox in position to get out in front early, but Gibson limited the damage in the first inning to just one run. Chicago would squeak out a couple more runs over six innings, and it seemed more like luck at the time than the successful application of talent, but the runs count all the same. Gibson's final line was five hits allowed through six, with four strikeouts and no walks.
Eddie Rosario had himself a ballgame. When Jeff Samardzija walked back-to-back batters to load the bases with two out in the bottom of the first, Rosario swung at the first pitch a flied out, wasting the scoring opportunity. It looked like a classic situation in which to drive home the narrative that Rosario can be too aggressive, but it's safe to say that he redeemed himself in grand style. Two innings later, a single and two walks loaded the bases again for Rosario, who took ball one and then positively destroyed a 1-0 pitch into the recesses of right-center field.
Later in the game, Jose Abreu tried to go first to third on a single to right field. Suffice it to say Rosario wasn't having it, charging the ball aggressively and then making a perfect throw to Trevor Plouffe at third to cut Abreu down by a good couple of feet.x
Gibson left the game with a 4-3 lead, which Casey Fien unfortunately gave up all too easily. Alexei Ramirez singled to lead off the inning and then Fien walked Geovany Soto on five pitches. Carlos Sanchez moved both runners up on a sac bunt, and something called J.B. Shuck (honestly, that name is on a list of "Terrible American Names" somewhere) flared a ball into the left-center field gap to plate both runs and put the White Sox ahead on a clutch triple. Neal Cotts would come in and get the second out, but Shuck tagged up and scored easily.
Neither team was great with runners in scoring position today (Chicago 2-for-10; Minnesota 1-for-5), so both teams left runs on the bases. But that one bit hit by Shuck made all the difference. Nate Jones and David Robertson didn't let the Twins put together a late rally.
- Glen Perkins won't be joining the Twins in Houston this weekend. He pitched earlier this week and apparently felt fine after the game, but he's woken up in pain both mornings since. Kevin Jepsen will close in the interim.
- Phil Hughes had a bullpen session today. If he wakes up tomorrow feeling good he'll have another session on Sunday and then hopefully a simulated game on Wednesday. That could put him on a schedule to pitch for the Twins around the middle of the month, although his back won't fully heal without rest. If he's healthy enough to go, it's hard to imagine Minnesota playing their Wild Card game - or constructing a post-season rotation - without Hughes.
- Aaron Hicks could rejoin the Twins on Friday night, which will make for some lineup card fun for Paul Molitor. Presumably he would go Hicks-Buxton-Rosario as his regular trio from left to right, with Hicks sliding into center for a Buxton off-day and Rosario shifting to left. Torii Hunter will still be in the mix somewhere, but he's been so ineffective as a hitter recently that he can't be a regular.