Austin Jackson missed hitting a grand slam — his first home run with the White Sox — by mere feet in the fourth inning, and had to settle for a two-run single on the next pitch. Twins starter Kyle Gibson got Adam Eaton to ground out to shortstop Eduardo Escobar on the next pitch, but the damage was done as the Chicago White Sox took a 3-0 lead on the way to a 4-1 win in the Minnesota Twins’ home opener at Target Field on Monday.
“I definitely picked the wrong time to throw my worst changeup of the day,” Gibson said of the near-miss on the grand slam. “Luckily he was just a little early on it.”
The inning started with newly-acquired White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier reaching on a throwing error from Escobar, who made a solid effort to field the ball but the throw handcuffed first baseman Joe Mauer, who couldn’t dig it out out of the dirt. The specific damage done by Frazier was neutralized as he was forced on a Melky Cabrera fielder’s choice, but the conga line around the bases ultimately led to Brett Lawrie and Avisail Garcia scoring on Jackson’s single.
The Twins threatened in the bottom half of the fourth, as Miguel Sano walked and Trevor Plouffe doubled to lead off the inning. But Byung Ho Park fouled out to the catcher, Eddie Rosario rolled over to second base (scoring Sano) and Escobar struck out looking against White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana, who pitched without sleeves on the way to his first win of the season.
It was quite a difference in temperature for Quintana from his first start, as he debuted for the season in 70 degree temperatures in Oakland. Game-time temperature at 3:16 Central Time was 42 degrees, with a 21 mph wind gusting up to 35 mph.
Quintana (1-0) wasn’t perfect, but worked in and out of jams as he scattered four hits and three walks over six innings. He fanned five batters, and threw 60 of his 100 pitches for strikes. On the other side of things, Gibson failed to complete six innings, striking out and walking three batters before ceding the mound to Ryan Pressly, who was impressive in long relief with 2.1 clean innings with a pair of strikeouts and just three baserunners overall. Through six innings this season, Pressly has six strikeouts and has not yet allowed an earned run.
The Twins once again threatened in the sixth, as Mauer hit a grounder to second base that Brett Lawrie had trouble fielding. It was ruled a single, and after Plouffe walked a batter later, the Twins were in business when Mauer took third on a wild pitch with one away and Park at the plate. The boo birds came out in force when Mauer opted not to tag on a medium-deep fly ball off Park’s bat, and the crowd’s displeasure only intensified when Rosario grounded out to short to neutralize the threat.
Minnesota again mounted a threat in the seventh, as Escobar dropped a single into left before Kurt Suzuki popped up a bunt into a double play. Byron Buxton singled following the double play, but was the last Twin to reach as Matt Albers, Zach Duke, Nate Jones and David Robertson teamed up to throw three scoreless innings to preserve the win. The save was Robertson’s third of the season, as he fanned Eduardo Nunez — pinch hitting for Park — before inducing a groundout from Rosario and a foul pop from Escobar.
Twins hitters struck out seven times on Monday. As a team, they entered the game striking out 31.9 percent of the time — an MLB-worst mark.
The Twins entered play on Monday tied for the fewest runs across MLB with 12 (Angels). The Angels face A’s ace Sonny Gray at 9:05 Monday night.
The Twins fell to 2-5 in home openers in Target Field history with the loss. The Twins have lost the last five straight.
The team’s seven straight losses to open the season is the longest for an MLB team since the Astros went 0-8 in 2010. The Astros finished 76-86 that year.
The home opener was deemed a sellout before game time — the 159th in Target Field history. In total, 40,638 was the total announced attendance.
Escobar was the only Twin with multiple hits — his fourth multi-hit game of the season — as the club managed just six total against Quintana and four relievers.
Nunez hit for Park in the ninth inning against Robertson and struck out. Nunez was 4-for-4 on Sunday in Kansas City and 4-for-5 for the season overall before fanning. Park is just 3-for-24 to start the season (.143/.250/.286)
Up next: 4/13 – LHP Carlos Rodon (0-1, 2.57) vs. RHP Phil Hughes (0-1, 4.50)