Brandon Kintzler and Fernando Abad both were nonroster invites to spring training who have done so well that multiple teams are interested in dealing for the Twins relievers before Monday’s nonwaiver trade deadline.
Saturday was not a good audition for potential suitors.
Kintzler blew the save in the ninth inning and Abad gave up a run in the 10th as the Chicago White Sox pulled out a 6-5 victory at Target Field.
“It’s was tough,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “You had a chance to win with three outs to go.”
Eduardo Escobar’s three-run homer in the eighth gave the Twins a 5-4 lead and charged up the announced crowd of 27,914. But he was a hero for only a few minutes, because the White Sox struck back in the ninth when Melky Cabrera got a pitch up in the strike zone and singled to left to score Tim Anderson from second and tie the score 5-5.
For Kintzler, it marked his first blown save in nine attempts since he was installed in the role in June.
The Twins threatened in the ninth. Danny Santana led off with a double to right off Michael Ynoa. Byron Buxton, while trying to bunt him to third, popped out foul to first, prompting a smattering of boos around the stadium. When Buxton gets a bunt down, he can be a disruptive force with his speed. But he has botched a few bunts recently.
“It stinks,” Buxton said. “I work on that every day, so I expect to get the ball down, especially when they call on me to do so. That can’t happen. Especially in a late-game situation.”
Robbie Grossman then struck out looking, and Joe Mauer was intentionally walked. Max Kepler walked on four pitches to load the bases for Brian Dozier. Dozier can catch up with most fastballs, but he was late on a 95-miles-per-hour heater from Ynoa and popped up to end threat.
Chicago took the lead in the 10th when Avisail Garcia doubled off Abad and scored on Dioner Navarro’s double to left. Abad entered Saturday with four consecutive scoreless outings.
Kintzler and Abad were pitching for a third consecutive day for the first time with the Twins.
“Kintzler, three days in a row. Abad, three days in a row,” Molitor said. “They got behind some good hitters and tried to be a little too careful, got too much of the plate and [the hitters]delivered.
Justin Morneau went 2-for-5 against his former teammates, including his second home run since joining the team earlier this month and a double.
The Twins took a 1-0 lead in the third solely because Buxton is incredibly fast.
He reached first on a throwing error by third baseman Tyler Saladino. He then took off for second and had the base stolen easily. But Navarro’s throw went into center field for an error, and Buxton came around to score. The throw home was in plenty of time to get Buxton, but Navarro lost the ball when he tagged Buxton as he sped by. Navarro was charged with two errors on the play.
Buxton also made a splendid running catch of Cabrera’s drive in the fourth before smacking into the fence in front of the bullpens in left-center. Justin Morneau’s double tied the score at 1-1 in the fourth. Twins starter Tommy Milone got two quick outs in the fifth but then gave up three consecutive hits, including a two-run double by Cabrera as Chicago took a 3-1 lead. Morneau gave the White Sox a 4-1 lead in the sixth with a home run, his second with the White Sox. It was vintage Morneau, too. His eyes grew big and he huffed and puffed as his helicopter swing sent a towering drive into the seats in right.
“Tommy was OK,” Molitor said. “They hit some balls hard that we were able to make plays on. The ones that hurt you are where you have two outs and nobody on base, and they were able to score three in those situations.’’