James Shields has been awful this season for the White Sox, but naturally he was able to get back on track by facing the Twins. Meanwhile, the Twins sloppily played their way to a 9-1 deficit before a late rally made the game interesting, but Eduardo Escobar flew out as the tying run as the Twins lost 9-6.
The game started off well with a leadoff home run from Eduardo Nunez and didn’t actually get out of hand until the 6th when the White Sox scored 5 runs. It started with an off-balance swing from Todd Frazier that had just enough strength behind it for a leadoff home run, then it just went downhill from there. Though Nolasco did get two outs following a Dioner Navarro double, he walked Avisail Garcia, then watched Eduardo Nunez let a hard grounder go off his glove for an RBI single. Michael Tonkin relieved Nolasco and promptly allowed a stolen base and a pair of singles (along with a terrible throw from Max Kepler back to the infield) that allowed three more runs to score.
Back in the 5th, the Twins were trailing 3-1 and had a chance to get back into the game but a baserunning blunder by Nunez proved costly. With Kurt Suzuki on first base, Nunez drove a Shields pitch deep to right. Because right fielder Adam Eaton was tracking the ball and fell just short of making the catch due to running into the outfield fence, Suzuki (rightfully) held up between first and second base. The ball hit the top of the fence and bounced back towards the infield, but due to Suzuki playing it safe, it should have been a double leading to runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out. Instead, Nunez wanted a triple and was running right on the heels of Suzuki, which forced Suzuki to come home. Eaton recovered in time and showed off his strong arm by throwing out Suzuki by a solid 20 feet at home plate. In my opinion, Nunez should have been aware that Suzuki had no shot of scoring and should have help up at second base; instead, the Twins lost an excellent chance of tying the game.
It wasn’t their only chance, though, as they put together an impressive rally in the 9th inning. White Sox reliever Matt Purke struggled as Eduardo Escobar led off with a double and was followed by a Suzuki walk. The White Sox immediately switched to fellow lefty Dan Jennings, who struck out Byron Buxton but then watched second baseman Brett Lawrie try to do too much in turning an impressive double play. Instead, Lawrie’s charge and backhand flip went past shortstop Tim Anderson, loading the bases. The floodgates opened as Robbie Grossman had an RBI single, pinch-hitter Juan Centeno had an RBI groundout, Max Kepler hit a 2-run double, Danny Santana was hit by a pitch, and finally Trevor Plouffe walked to force in another run. Having batted around and Escobar at the plate as the tying run, the White Sox brought in hard-throwing reliever Nate Jones, who induced a lazy fly ball to left from Escobar to end the late rally.
WP: James Shields (3-9)
LP: Ricky Nolasco (3-6)
S: Nate Jones (2)
Eduardo Nunez (3-for-5, 2 R, RBI)
Ricky Nolasco (5 2/3 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 1 BB, 5 K), Joe Mauer (0-for-4, K)