Normally, I would try to give you some analysis and insights about the game we just watched. But, tonight, there’s not much point in that. The Twins were utterly dominated and put forth an embarrassing performance. All you really need to know is that American League Cy Young front-runner Dylan Cease was in complete control from the start, the beleaguered Twins lineup had little chance throughout, and Tyler Mahle’s shoulder issues are not resolved. If not for Luis Arráez knocking a line-drive single with two outs in the top of the 9th, Cease would have thrown (at least what felt like) one of the least competitive no-hitters in baseball history.
Instead, Cease finished with a complete game shutout on just 103 pitches, allowing the lone hit and two walks, to go along with a middling (for him) 7 strikeouts. The Twins put twenty batted balls in play tonight and none of them qualified as barrels. Six were hit 95 mph or greater, but the Twins rarely threatened to get a hit, and the White Sox did not need to make any superior defensive plays to preserve Cease’s no-hit bid.
The other major storyline from this one is Tyler Mahle’s shoulder. The Twins activated Mahle off the injured list to start tonight, but he never looked right. In the bottom of the first, the first four Chicago hitters reached on three straight singles and a three-run home run off the bat of Eloy Jiménez. That put the Twins in a 4-0 hole before Mahle even recorded an out. He’d put down the next three hitters in order, but when he returned for the bottom of the 2nd inning, his velocity was again alarmingly low. Despite a fastball that was sitting 87-88 mph that inning, Mahle put up a zero. He was replaced by Aaron Sanchez in the third and the Twins later announced that Mahle is again dealing with shoulder inflammation.
Sanchez did an admirable job in long relief. He did allow a three-run homer in the 4th that effectively ended the game, but otherwise soaked up five innings and saved the rest of the bullpen for another day. The homer was hit by Chicago 9-hole hitter Romy González and was the very first of his major league career.
Another feature of this game that is worth noting is that Rocco Baldelli pulled his #2 and #3 hitters, Carlos Correa and Max Kepler, in the bottom of the fifth trailing 7-0. Per Megan Ryan, this was a “manager’s decision,” not anything injury-related. There’s probably no story there and was just Rocco getting two of his core players a little rest in a non-competitive game in the midst of a long stretch with few off days, but it was a little curious with the game barely half over.
The other item that will probably get some attention and discussion is the Twins’ pitching during the bottom of the 8th. With the game 7-0, Nick Gordon was summoned to throw batting practice. That went so well (30 pitches, 6 runs, 2 outs) that he was replaced mid-inning with another position player, Jermaine Palacios, to finally get out of the inning.
The one silver lining from tonight is that Cleveland also lost, 4-0 to Seattle, which keeps the Twins’ deficit in the division standings at one game. With their win (their fourth straight), the White Sox have crept back to just two games behind Cleveland.
Tomorrow: Bundy vs. Giolito, 1:10p Central