The offense had a little more life today than yesterday, but the Twins’ bats again weren’t able to come through when they were most needed.
New permanent rotation member Louie Varland struggled with command of his non-fastball pitches early, walking Tim Anderson to kick off the bottom of the 1st. After getting out the Andrews (Benintendi and Vaughn), Varland had a chance to pitch around the leadoff walk, but Eloy Jimenez singled which set up Twins killer Luis Robert Jr. with two men on base. Robert smoked a two-strike, middle-middle out of the park to give the Pale Hose an early 3-0 lead.
The Twins were able to respond in the top of the 3rd thanks to their big bats. With two outs and Willie Castro and Jorge Polanco on base, Carlos Correa hit a double down the third base line just out of the reach of Chicago third baseman Jake Burger. Buxton followed with a rocket double (110.2 MPH off the bat!) that was about 6 inches away from leaving the park. The double would suffice with the game tied back up at 3-3.
Nick Gordon continued to try to put April behind him by homering in his second straight game, giving the Twins the lead in the top of the 4th. The Twins tried to put together a two-out rally for the second straight inning after Ryan Jeffers and Max Kepler drew a pair of walks, but Jeffers inexplicably tried and failed to advance to third on a pitch in the dirt that was easily blocked by Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal. The Twins used their challenge to argue that Jeffers was safe, but were unsuccessful. That would unfortunately come back to haunt the Twins in the 6th inning when Castro was incorrectly called out on a stolen base attempt.
Varland settled down but ran into trouble again in the bottom half of the 4th, loading the bases for Tim Anderson who promptly hit a single to right field. The White Sox scored one, but Kepler threw out Grandal trying to score on the play as well.
Then came the NOBLETIGER. For those unfamiliar, that is an acronym for No Outs, Bases Loaded, Ending with Team Incapable of Getting Easy Run. It’s the easiest situation to score and you still failed. Even worse for the Twins, it was with their three best hitters at the plate.
The Twins loaded the bases with no outs thanks to some bad defense and good small ball by Jorge Polanco. Then Correa grounded out to Anderson at short, getting the force out at home. Buxton grounded into another force out at home courtesy of a weak grounder back to the pitcher. Finally, Trevor Larnach followed it up with a strikeout.
The White Sox would go on to score a couple runs against Griffin Jax and Jovani Moran, the Jax run largely due to the speed of month-long Twin Billy Hamilton, but in the end it still comes down to the offense falling apart in the easiest of spots. White Sox win 6-4, and the Twins will have to win tomorrow to avoid a sweep from one of the coldest teams in the league.
Byron Buxton: 1-2, 2B, RBI, 2 BB, SB
Nick Gordon: HR in second straight game
Emilio Pagán I guess? 1.1 IP, 2 K, no runs!
Trevor Larnach: 0-4, 4 K, 6 LOB
Griffin Jax: 1 IP, 3 H, BB, gave up losing run
Louie Varland, technically: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 2 BB, 6 K, 4 R (I give him a pass for having to go up and down between St. Paul and the Twins over the last week or so. He’ll be fine.)
Comment of the Game goes to old friend Uncle Lincoln for a good/bad pun that also made me realize I hadn’t eaten dinner yet.