May 11. That’s the last time the Minnesota Twins won a one-run game.
That is….until the Twins eked out a 2-1 in 13 innings against the Chicago White Sox.
Having struggled in June, Jake Odorizzi gave the Twins a quality start. He cruised through five innings before having to battle in the sixth. After a walk to Matt Davidson to load the bases Odorizzi won a 14-pitch dual with Kevan Smith getting him to fly out to right field.
The next half inning, Logan Morrison hit a Lucas Giolito fastball 440 feet, nearly to the right field concourse. The massive home run gave the Twins a 1-0 lead.
The White Sox didn’t threaten to score until the bottom of the ninth. Twins closer Fernando Rodney got the first two outs with ease; the rest of the inning was a struggle.
Rodney allowed four consecutive batters to reach via a single, hit-by-pitch, walk and a walk. The latter of the two walks scored a run, which tied the game 1-1.
The two teams traded mild to moderate scoring chances until the 13th inning when the Twins loaded the bases for Max Kepler. He worked a walk to score the go-ahead run.
Before the Twins could call it a win, Smith led off the bottom half with a single then stole second during Yolmer Sanchez’s at-bat. Sanchez grounded out to short but the umpires reviewed the play — as if there weren’t enough reviews already in the game — with White Sox manager Rick Renteria seemingly reviewing and arguing every close call.
Alan Busenitz, who worked the final 1 2/3 innings, picked up the win.
What we saw from our vantage point
A Team Starving for Offense
For the second straight game, the Twins scored just one run in nine innings. It wasn’t until the 13th that Minnesota squeezed out another run. The offense has been hit-or-miss for most of the season but has largely been a miss as of late.
In the series finale, the chances to score were abundant. The amount of scoring was not.
The Twins loaded the bases in the first, seventh, 10th and 13th inning yet failed to score in all but the latter.
In the first, Ehire Adrianza came up with the bases loaded and two outs. Giolito walked three prior batters then fell behind Adrianza 3-0. After taking a strike, Adrianza fouled off two consecutive pitches before popping out to Tim Anderson.
In the seventh, Robbie Grossman was the batter with bases loaded and one out with the Twins leading 1-0. The opportunity to add an insurance run against the White Sox bullpen looked promising as Chicago relievers have averaged five runs allowed per game this season; only the Orioles, Rockies and Royals have allowed more per game.
Grossman lined a ball hard to second baseman Yoan Moncada, who caught it then easily touched second to double off Kepler.
Both bases-loaded opportunities netted the Twins zero runs, something that hurt Minnesota, a team struggling to score.
In the 10th inning, Brian Dozier had a chance to push across the go-ahead run in with the bases loaded and two outs. White Sox reliever Joakim Soria struck out Dozier with fastballs high in the zone — something Dozier has handled in the past — to end the Twins third go at driving in a run with the bases full.
Minnesota finally cashed in with the bases juiced on Kepler’s run-scoring walk in the 13th.
By game’s end, the Twins left 13 men on base and were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
The Kevan Smith Experience
As noted earlier, Smith and Odorizzi battled in the sixth inning to the tune of a 14-pitch at-bat. He threw nearly half of his 30 pitches in the sixth inning to Smith. The end result greatly benefitted the Twins as Chicago squandered their own bases loaded scoring opportunity, a momentum killer as the Twins broke the 0-0 tie the next half inning.
- Rodney blew his first save since April 26 in New York. Since that game, he has recorded 15 saves in 19 appearances while striking out 21 batters in 19 2/3 innings. The Twins were 19-1 in games he appeared in over that stretch.
- The Twins stay in Chicago to face the Cubs for weekend series. Adalberto Mejia will make his season debut on Saturday. Probable pitching matchups against the Cubs:
- Jose Berrios (8-5, 3.15 ERA) vs. Mike Montgomery (2-2, 3.39 ERA) – Friday
- Adalberto Mejia (4-2, 2.74 at Triple-A Rochester) vs. Tyler Chatwood (3-5, 3.95 ERA) – Saturday
- Lance Lynn (5-6, 4.81 ERA) vs. John Lester (10-2, 2.18 ERA) – Sunday