CHICAGO – Here’s the thing about Friday night’s baseline standoff between the White Sox and Twins: It can only help Minnesota.
If things don’t change for the Twins, if the losing keeps getting discouragingly routine, the defensive breakdowns keep happening, the pitching surrenders a run an inning, well, nobody will remember that Jose Abreu briefly threw a temper tantrum after getting plunked by Trevor May in the late innings of a 10-4 loss to the White Sox.
And if the Twins, who have lost three in a row and seven of their past eight, begin playing as well as they still insist that they can, despite mounting contrary evidence? If the mistakes fade away, if the bad breaks happen to the other team? If shouting at the opposition makes the Twins closer? Then thank you, Jose Abreu.
“All your teammates jump in together,” May said after Abreu loudly objected to getting hit, during the same inning in which Minnesota’s Byung Ho Park had been hit by a Nate Jones pitch. “You’d rather not have these situations, but … we’re family in here.”
A feuding family. Both benches emptied when Abreu grew irate, and White Sox manager Robin Ventura said after the game he was convinced May did it on purpose.
“Yeah. You know, it definitely becomes a reaction to something. I felt that was [intentional], and especially with Pito [Abreu], you’re always sensitive to that and you respond to that,” Ventura said. “It’s a difference of opinion. We’re not going to back down or be afraid in that situation. You back the guy up. I think, for me, there was intent there.”
May, though, said his mistake had nothing to do with Abreu’s long first-inning home run, or Jones’ pitch to Park.
“I guess Park might have got them thinking about it, but it’s our M.O. on Abreu — you’ve got to get it in,” May said. “He hit a homer on a slider away earlier, and if you look at any video of me ever pitching to him before, I stayed in there. I just tried to get in there, and that’s all she wrote.”
It was all she wrote for the Twins much earlier, thanks to bad defense, bad pitching and bad luck. An error by Eduardo Escobar led to a two-run first inning. Failing to cover first base on a bizarre infield-in grounder eventually cost Ricky Nolasco a couple more runs. An potential inning-ending ground ball to Fernando Abad landed at his feet — and he couldn’t find it, leading to two more.
“The trend is concerning, because it seems to be a pattern,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “A couple plays don’t get made, and it changes the game. Offensively, we had a couple good things happen again, but the deficits are getting larger. We’re not putting many zeros on the board.”
Escobar suffered a strained groin during the game, and Molitor said he expects the shortstop to go on the disabled list Saturday — one more change in a week of roster shuffling. It seems as if things go wrong as a routine, so much so that even when something goes right, it doesn’t last.
“Obviously the losing piles up. It’s how it’s going right now,” Molitor said after his team fell to a franchise-record 2-13 on the road. “We did some good things. We were down 5-1, but we didn’t quit. [Oswaldo] Arcia hit a two-run homer, and we scored another one off [an Eduardo] Nunez leadoff double. But you’ve got to find ways to put up zeros, and that’s what we didn’t do.”