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Twins 2, White Sox 1: The craziest finish in recent memory

Another boring offensive performance gets completely turned around by weird Bizarro Baseball Luck.

Chicago White Sox v Minnesota Twins
Yep.
Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Chicago pitching, particularly prized young ace Micheal Kopech, kept Twins hitting in the permanent state of Winter’s Never Gonna End that has been April, so far. (Bailey Ober was almost as good against the White Sox hitters.)

Then, a brain-bogglingly awful defensive sequence (watch below, you’ll want to see this one) gifted Minnesota the lead and assuredly gave Sox manager Tony LaRussa a warm feeling in his very lower intestines. A relief performance worthy of classic Eddie Guardado barely managed to preserve this series-opening, unexpectedly thrilling win for the Twins.

Inning-by-inning recap:

1: Ha-ha, radio says Sox shortstop Tim Anderson has been suspended one game (he’s appealing it) for “making an obscene gesture to fans.” Well, that bears investigation. It came after he made a few errors in a game against Cleveland. Here ya go, folks (cover your EYES):

Awesome. Equally awesome is Bailey Ober getting him to popup the game’s first pitch.

Nobody’s gotten a hit off a Michael Kopech fastball this year. Luis Arraez does, ending that streak. Carlos Correa almost does, but his screamer bounces right off the mound into Anderson’s glove to start the GIDP.

2: A fan catches a hot foul ball and is seen on camera getting a kiss on the cheek from his date. Gladden: “if I catch a foul ball, do I get a kiss on the cheek?” Provus: “Absolutely. It’s Grateful Dead Night, it’s all about the love, man.”

Nobody’s gotten a hit off Kopech with runners in scoring position this year. That streak stays alive, for now, after a two-out Trevor Larnach double is promptly followed by a Miguel Sano easy fly.

3: Bailey is quietly pitching a very effective game so far, getting Sox hitters to miss their timing badly; only Gavin Sheets in the second managed a sharp single.

Less quietly, the flamethrowing Kopech has largely frustrated Twins hitters, when not blowing it by them. If you’re going to be in the stands on a night that feels like February in Portland (cold, grey, misty), a pitching duel isn’t your worst option. Just don’t match it with a goatee and plaid.

4: Methinks the hitters have been studying meterology. Although the science of fluid dynamics wouldn’t have helped Twins hitters here, since they didn’t even put any balls in play. Three strikeouts, wow.

5: Welp, there’s a run. Andrew Vaughn parks one beneath the junipers in center. And then Rees McGuire doubles to left, so maybe the Sox don’t believe in science. Ober stands up for the Enlightenment by avoiding any further damage, and disappoints dirty minded stats fans by striking out .069-hitting Leury Garcia to end the inning.

It’s time for a rally Summit Keller Pils Twins Pils. The rally beer does not work. Larnach gets the first hit off Kopech since, um, Larnach with an infield single, but then Sano hits what should have been an inning-ending double play (Garcia airmailed it to first, and catcher McGuire kept it from the Twins dugout on a smart backup play). Kopech strikes out Nick Gordon to defeat my beer. I mention Trevor Larnach in the comments, and Brandon replies with “it feels like we haven’t gotten a hit since Trevor PLOUFFE.” White Sox 1-0

6: Off we go into the wild blue yonder with Air Force Academy alum Griffin Jax. In the daredevil style of Snoopy on his Sopwith Camel, Jax walks Jose Abreu to lead things off and wilds him to second, then shoots down the remaining Sox.

Meanwhile, Kopech’s relief, Jose Ruiz, plays the Red Baron and mercilessly eliminates Twins bats.

7: Jax does well again. Sox pitcher Aaron Bummer is one for lefthanded hitters, with the last lefty homerun coming off him in 2019. Max Kepler does get a walk and is fielder’s choiced to second, but after Baldelli brings in Kyle Garlick for the lefty Larnach, LaRussa does the same with righty Kendall Graveman. He buries Garlick. The Twins will NEVER SCORE AGAIN.

8: Recent meltdown specialist Tyler Duffey comes in and does not, in fact, go Three Mile Island. Recent automatic out Ryan Jeffers actually gets the first Target Field cheer of the night with a two-out double off Graveman, and advances to third on a wild pitch. Luis Arraez walks. Correa is up to bat.

AND THEN SH**T GOES CRAZY

As the video shows, Correa hits it deep in the hole to short. Anderson makes a throw that *might* have gotten Correa if it went to first, instead of Not Near First. Jose Abreu throws home to stop Arraez, who had ALREADY STOPPED AT THIRD, and throws it badly. THEN Arraez breaks for home and reaches easily. On the play, Correa gets to second. He’s stranded there, but somehow the Twins now lead this game 2-1. Hold on to your butts...

9: Emilio Pagan comes in for his second save in as many games and efficiently shuts down the White Sox 1-2-3.

Hah! Are you kidding? Not in this game!

No. His Dark Materials comes in for the save/heart-attack and Eloy Jimenez greets him with a walloped double. Adam Engel grounds out, sending Jimenez to third. Pagan then walks AJ Pollock, which you could say was to set up the double play, except it absolutely was not. Vaughn draws another walk. Bases loaded, one out.

Pagan gets McGuire to pop it up. Now comes Sox #9 hitter Jake Burger. Pagan is at 29 pitches. He throws Burger two 85-MPH cutters and gets two swinging strikes. Then three more cutters. None are close to the zone. Two of them bounce right in the dirt and are barely blocked by recent rally-starter Jeffers.

On pitch #34, Pagan throws a 94-MPH fastball. It heads straight at the lower inside corner. Inexplicably, Burger just... sits there.

Strike three. TWINS. WIN.

If the finish felt a little dirty and a little druggy... well, it was Earth Day. And Grateful Dead Night.

Studs: Ober, for continuing to justify the team’s faith in his ability as a starter. Jeffers, for being the guy you’d least have predicted to win it with late-game Super Fun.

COTG was going to go to AshleyReb, for sharing the warming goodness of Knoephla soup with us. (And it still sounds like good soup!) But I have to add the late additions of JohnFoley, for “That 9th inning was the opposite of a Tom Emanski video... all the way around,” and norff, who pointed out how much fun that White Sox circus baseball must be for new Twins scorer Sarah Johnson.

Tune in tomorrow at 3:05 to see if Minnesota can get the series win with starter Dylan Bundy.

Whew!