CHICAGO — The Twins’ offense was a dud all night, but they did actually make things tense in the ninth inning. Facing new White Sox closer Juan Minaya, Joe Mauer led off the inning with a pinch-hit single down the left field line, a hit he may have tried to stretch into a double if the Twins didn’t trail by four at the time.
Eddie Rosario followed by falling behind 0-2, but then waiting out Minaya for a walk, fouling off anything close. It was Rosario’s second walk of the game, a feat he’s managed four times in a month.
Then came perhaps the biggest play of the night: Chris Gimenez lofted a 96-mph fastball into short center field, and it appeared off the bat that it would fall for a hit. But Adam Engel came racing in and made a sliding catch that kept the Twins from loading the bases. “I really needed that one,” Gimenez said afterward.
Instead of the tying run coming to the plate, Kennys Vargas, pinch-hitting for Ehire Adrianza, could only pull the Twins within a run. But after falling behind by chasing a couple of curveballs in the dirt, Vargas watched strike three, a 96-mph fastball, sail by on the inside part of the plate.
Max Kepler then hit for Zack Granite, and tried to work a walk, getting ahead 2-0. When the count reached 2-2, though, he hit a hard grounder that Jose Abreu, playing on the baseline, snagged and converted into the game-ending out.
“We got a couple guys on there,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said, “but we couldn’t turn it in to anything.”
Mitch Garver had only played five games at first base this season, and 40 in his five-year minor-league career, so it’s hard to fault him for not being perfect at the unfamiliar position. But with Miguel Sano on the disabled list and Joe Mauer sitting out against a left-hander, “We don’t have a lot of options against left-handed pitching right now,” Molitor said. “The guy’s going out there, he’s working on his defense. We’re trying to make him as versatile as we can.”
Garver’s inexperience cost the Twins, though, when he had to range three steps to his right on Nicky Delmonico’s ground ball in the fourth inning.
“The ball was weakly hit off the bat. [Brian Dozier] might have been playing a little bit up the middle, so I knew I had to get over there and try to make a play on the ball,” Garver said. “It hit off the heel of my glove, and ended up skipping away.”
It rolled far enough, in fact, that shortstop Jorge Polanco had to come over and retrieve it, giving Yoan Moncada enough time to round third and score on the play.
“He’s made some plays,” Molitor defended his player. “That one had a little funny spin on it, and he got his feet tangled up a little bit.”