Pitching Falters, But Buxton Shines, in Twins Series Loss to White Sox

Photo credit: David Banks (USA TODAY Sports)

The Minnesota Twins finally had some momentum again this season. A three-game series sweep against Cleveland gave Minnesota some room to work in second place. It felt like the lineup was clicking once again and the team could ascend back to the top of the division against Chicago.

Except, that didn’t happen. The White Sox stifled the Twins, winning three of four games, and Minnesota is now three games back of the Central Division lead. Though they salvaged a game to avoid the sweep by winning 5-1 on Wednesday, the Twins’ chances of winning the division took a hit.

Minnesota struggled to score runs, combining for three in the first two games. But a couple of shaky outings created an opportunity for other bullpen guys to succeed in Wednesday’s victory.

Rogers, Dobnak Struggle; Odorizzi Looks Strong in Return

The team’s pitching was all over the board through this series.

Jose Berrios only allowed one run in his outing, but his only 1-2-3 inning was his last inning he pitched. He went five innings, giving up six hits while striking out two batters on 93 pitches. One run should be good enough for a pitcher to leave to the bullpen, especially one as reliable as Minnesota’s was entering the series.

Taylor Rogers came into the game in the bottom of the eighth tied 1-1. He recorded just one out, gave up two hits and two walks for two Chicago runs.

Randy Dobnak looked to get a rebound start in the second game of the series. Instead of getting that, he labored through 4 1/3 innings. He gave up eight hits and four runs while striking out four batters on 97 pitches. After his outing, both Tyler Clippard and Jorge Alcala also gave up runs en route to the 6-2 loss.

The first bright sign for a Twins starter came from Jake Odorizzi in the third game. He allowed two hits and one home run through 63 pitches. He only lasted 3 2/3 innings because a blister opened on his middle finger. Odorizzi said after the game it’s not something he’s worried about, saying it’s part of the process to building up a callus that he normally would have during spring training.

From there Cody Stashak and Tyler Duffey pitched 2 1/3 and two innings, respectively. Each had flawless outings before Trevor May had a hitless inning to close out the victory.

Kenta Maeda pitched another efficient game in the finale. He allowed five hits and two runs in five innings of work. He struck out eight batters over 86 pitches. While Maeda gave the Twins’ offense a chance as their bullpen entered with a 3-2 lead, Clippard came in and was charged with two runs in the seventh inning as the White Sox took the lead for good.

Buxton Shines Amid Lack of Run Support

Byron Buxton has been uniquely impressive offensively in the last few weeks. In the month of September, he has just three games without a hit. Through this four-game series, he has at least one hit in each game. Additionally, he had a home run in each of the last three games. He had two on Sunday, which marked his sixth and seventh home runs in his past nine games.

But while Buxton has shined, the rest of the offense has failed to produce. Specifically, the Twins most reliable hitter was cold this series. Nelson Cruz had multiple unfortunate at-bats in the first game. He was up to bat twice with the bases loaded and proceeded to strike out and ground into a double play to end each inning.

Overall, Minnesota scored more than three runs once in these four games. Aside from the five runs in a victory on Wednesday, the Twins rounded out the series with three solo home runs in Game 4, which was not enough to beat the potent White Sox.

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