Pretty much everything that has ailed the Minnesota Twins was on display in Tuesday night’s 8-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.
- Poor weather? Check.
- Iffy baserunning? Check.
- Starting pitcher hitting a wall? Check.
- Inopportune poor defense? Check.
- Offense stuck in neutral? Check.
The Twins took leads of 2-0 and 4-2, only to see them wither away as the pesky White Sox — who are an ugly 27-51 on the season — refused to go away in grabbing their fourth win in 10 tries against Minnesota this season.
Lance Lynn cruised through five innings but found turbulence in the sixth, while opposing starter Reynaldo Lopez gave up a pair of home runs but not much else before giving way to a surprisingly stout bullpen which sealed the deal.
Here’s what we saw from our vantage point
Win probability chart
The Twins simply didn’t have enough baserunners…
Ehire Adrianza was the only Twin with more than one hit, and he and Mitch Garver (1-for-2 with a walk) were the only two who reached base more than once on the evening. It’s never a good sign when the No. 9 hitter is carrying the water, but that was the case as the Twins collectively had just six hits and a walk.
How’s this for damning? The Twins were 1-for-1 with runners in scoring position.
It’s surprising they scored four runs.
…so would it surprise you that they made another out on the bases?
Eduardo Escobar leads MLB in doubles, but he attempted to stretch a single into a double with two outs in the top of the third and was thrown out by left fielder Leury Garcia.
Brian Dozier attempted to do the same thing on the last homestand, with the rationale that at least there were two outs in the inning and he was trying to make something happen. That was also true in Escobar’s case, but both hitters were out by wide margins.
And in Escobar’s case, the Twins were ahead, 2-0. If memory serves, the Twins were down when Dozier tried to light a spark.
The White Sox offense was tremendously balanced
Every White Sox hitter had a hit except for Jose Abreu — the only one in the lineup having even a decent offensive season — and the balance of the offense came from some unusual suspects.
Yoan Moncada got things going with a booming triple to the gap in right-center to cut the Twins’ 2-0 lead in half. Moncada is an uber prospect who in due time will be a thorn in the Twins’ collective sides, but for now he’s hitting just .227/.297/.412 and is coming off a massive slump.
Yolmer Sanchez, the team’s No. 2 hitter who is hitting a respectable .258/.304/.411, drove in four runs, while Adam Engel — the team’s No. 9 hitter — scored a pair with No. 8 hitter Tim Anderson going 2-for-3 with a walk.
Even Avisail Garcia, who was hitting cleanup but batting just .231/.245/.330 in limited action this season, got in on the fun, pummeling a home run into the stands in left against Twins reliever Alan Busenitz.
Teams like the White Sox need to embrace the “a different hero every night” mantra in order to be as successful as their talent level allows. They simply don’t have the horses to do otherwise.
The offense did absolutely nothing against the White Sox bullpen
The Twins had a little success against Lopez, but the bullpen absolutely shut them down as Rick Renteria mixed and matched to perfection. Luis Avilan, Juan Minaya, Jace Fry and Joakim Soria combined for the final three innings, allowing zero hits with a pair of strikeouts.
There was a lot of chatter on Twitter about the Twins being shut down by these White Sox relievers, but as a group they aren’t that bad. The White Sox have a collective 3.90 ERA as a bullpen — better than the Twins (4.27) — with more than a strikeout per inning and less than a homer every nine innings. They’re a little above average ERA-wise (14th among 30 MLB teams), so it’s not like they’re total dogs.
Lynn was solid through five innings, but was subjected to death by papercuts in the sixth
Lynn gave back the lead immediately in the bottom of the third, and had worked around a jam in the second, but did manage 1-2-3 innings in the first and the fifth.
The sixth is where it got ugly.
Matt Davidson hit a nubber that Lynn knocked down but couldn’t corral. Leury Garcia reached on a ball Lynn deflected to Dozier with no time to make a play at first.
To say things snowballed quickly is an understatement. Davidson’s single was on the second pitch he saw, while Garcia and Kevan Smith hit the first pitches they saw.
So Lynn threw four pitches and loaded the bases. That’s kind of wild. The combined distance of the three hits? About 400 feet, based on Baseball Savant measuring Smith’s hit at 241 feet, Garcia’s at 124 and my estimation of 60 feet or so on the one Lynn couldn’t corral, since it was right at the mound.
Anyway, the Twins were in deep, and manager Paul Molitor went to get Ryan Pressly. Pressly walked in a run before getting Engel to strike out looking, and then Taylor Rogers came on and got Yoan Moncada to pop to short before Sanchez singled home a pair of runs to give the White Sox a 5-4 lead they never relinquished.
This was a fairly typical Lynn start in terms of usage. He threw all but 15 of his pitches as fastballs — four-seamer, sinker, cutter — with 14 curves and one single, solitary changeup. He touched 96 on the four-seamer and 95 on the sinker, and managed a very, very solid 15 swinging strikes.
Was Molitor too hasty to pull him since very little of the damage in the sixth was self-inflicted? That feels a lot like hindsight.
Lopez was just fine for the White Sox, but that was enough
Lopez pitched into the seventh and allowed four earned runs — including homers to Adrianza and Dozier — and pitched awfully similar to how he has all year. The numbers — like his 3.73 ERA — are a little flashier than the substance (6.4 K/9, 3.7 BB/9), but show legitimate growth from a big-time prospect who came over in the Adam Eaton deal.
Lopez threw 98 pitches and got nine swinging strikes — not particularly inspiring — but got the job done as he allowed just seven baserunners while getting 19 outs.
Like Moncada, it feels like he’s going to be a thorn in the Twins’ side for quite some time.
Shaky defense may not have directly cost the Twins the game, but it certainly didn’t help
The White Sox pushed across their first run of the night after Engel reached on a throwing error by Adrianza to open the third inning. Moncada tripled on the next pitch and came home to score when Sanchez grounded to second on the pitch after that.
Almost seems like a theme here, doesn’t it?
In the bottom of the eighth, with the Twins trailing 6-4, Moncada grounded to second on a ball Dozier was unable to handle, loading the bases with the White Sox capitalizing for two more runs in the inning.
In all, the White Sox scored six earned runs. So in a vacuum, it wasn’t like they won the game solely on unearned runs at all, but it does change the complexion of how the innings are managed and pitched, and obviously errors have never helped a pitcher.
More than anything else, it just goes to show that the Twins do not have much of a margin to play with here — in terms of execution or making mental or physical mistakes — and that really shouldn’t be the case when they’re playing the dregs of the Central.
- The start of the game was delayed one hour, 48 minutes due to rain.
- In the month of June, here are some rankings for the Twins offense: 92 wRC+ (19th), 97 runs (17th), 24 home runs (17th).
- Also from June, here are some pitching rankings: 3.95 ERA (16th), 3.68 FIP (seventh), 9.2 K/9 (eighth), 2.9 BB/9 (ninth).