Poor baserunning in the second inning, and a potential double-play ball in the sixth inning led to a 5-2 loss for the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday. The Chicago White Sox were able to escape the second inning only down 1-0 because Mitch Garver failed to score on Ehire Adrianza’s double to deep center, and Jake Odorizzi was chased in what became a four-run sixth when Jose Abreu advanced on a single that could have been a double-play ball.
“Two big plays,” said manager Paul Molitor. “Not the only things that kept us back.”
On Garver’s mishap, specifically, Molitor was upset with the lack of fundamental baserunning.
“Not a good read (by Garver),” he said, addressing his poor baserunning in the second inning. “Second day in a row that we didn’t score on a double from second base. And then situational hitting, you get a couple of ground balls but don’t score. Those are huge runs early. A chance maybe to knock a pitcher out of the game, all those type things.”
Former Twin Hector Santiago’s pitch count was climbing, and Adrianza’s double scored Robbie Grossman from third. But Ryan LaMarre, the No. 9 hitter, grounded out, Garver got caught between third and home for the second out and Eddie Rosario flew out to end the inning. This after the Twins had a team meeting where he stressed the fundamentals last week.
“You don’t wave a magic wand,” he said. “I think you bring attention to those things in the hope that the focus picks up and guys understand their responsibilities in different areas of the game. But, you’d like to think you could do better in a lot of those things that cause us to lose that game tonight.”
It wasn’t just that. They didn’t keep the force in order on a base hit. Eddie Rosario had an error in deep right. And Tim Anderson stole third on Ryan Pressly in that nightmare sixth inning.
The sixth. Yolmer Sanchez singles to right-center. Abreu singles to shallow second on a potential double-play ball. Jake Odorizzi leaves with seven strikeouts, but 99 pitches without recording an out.
“I went back and looked at it, it’s in the other batters box. [Abreu] chased the first two so I was trying to go just as far as I did,” said Odorizzi. “The ball gets hit on the ground and I automatically thought it was a double play. It’s a soft hit ball right toward the shortstop and we were shifted in the hole. In that situation there it just has to be a double play.
“You made the pitch … it changes everything from that point on, obviously — you know, a chance to get through six, Pressly stays down there. But when you’re playing that far over, it’s a tough play for him to run over and just try to get an out, not even turn a double play. I think it’s just something that really can’t happen in that situation. We have to be able to turn a double play when you have a double play situation.”
Molitor wasn’t so sure it was a double play ball.
“The ground ball that Abreu hit, I’m not sure of a double play, because of the lack of speed on the ball, but you would think he would get an out on that ball,” he said. “I don’t know if [shortstop Ehire Adrianza] peeked, or wasn’t sure if he wanted to go to second or first. I haven’t had a chance to look at it. I know live, it looked like a ball we should have got an out on. He made a good pitch 0-2 and hit it off the end of the bat.”
Odorizzi is removed; Pressly’s in. With men on first and second, he gets Matt Davidson, the cleanup hitter to strike out. But Kevan Smith singles to load the bases. A wild pitch allows all the runners to advance, tying the game at 2-2. Tim Anderson’s single scores two more runners. He steals third and scores on an Adam Engel sac bunt. Charlie Tilson strikes out looking and the inning ends.
“With two strikes, a lot of guys kind of focus on (hitting) back up the middle, whatever it may be,” said Odorizzi, calmly. “So, I threw the pitch that I wanted, got the result that I wanted; we just were in the right spot for that perfect situation. It’s frustrating. I didn’t know we were shifted so far in the hole. As pitchers, we probably have a responsibility to, if we see that, make an adjustment on our own. So I can partially take the blame for it; I didn’t know he was shaded that far to the left.”
Odorizzi has no regrets, though.
“Like I said, double plays are a pitcher’s best friend for a reason, especially in big situations like that,” he added. “Doing it all over again, I’d make the same pitch and hope for the right result. If we’re playing two steps to the left, it’s a much easier play to at least get an out, not even two.”
If Garver scores on the double in the second, and the Twins turn the double play in the sixth, maybe the outcome would have been different.
In the end, everyone in the clubhouse, and certainly Molitor, seemed upset that the lack of fundamentals manifested itself in yet another loss for a team that cannot afford one right now.