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Twins' season reaches its lowest point

  • Article by: Joe Christensen
  • Star Tribune
  • September 10, 2007 - 12:04 AM

CHICAGO — Twins catcher Jose Morales left U.S. Cellular Field on crutches Saturday after having his 3-for-3 major league debut derailed by a sprained left ankle.

Yet, of all the recently promoted players trying to make an impression on the Twins this weekend, Morales might be the lucky one: At least his stumble was injury-related.

One day after Julio DePaula delivered the worst ninth-inning meltdown in recent memory — five batters faced, no outs, five runs — the Twins tested other members of this year's Class AAA Rochester crop in some big spots.

The results were good, bad and then just plain ugly, as the White Sox won another wild one at U.S. Cellular Field, 8-7.

Chicago erased leads of 5-2 and 7-5, stretching the Twins' losing streak to a season-high six games.

This time, lefthander Carmen Cali had the key meltdown, as he faced four batters without getting an out after manager Ron Gardenhire turned to him to protect the 7-5 lead in the seventh inning.

A.J. Pierzynski drilled Cali's first pitch for a two-run homer, and three batters later, Jim Thome singled home the go-ahead run.

"[Cali] had a really bad day," Gardenhire said.

A rundown on the rest of the Rochester imports:

•Matt Garza had another shaky start, lasting four innings. Though just three of the five runs he allowed were earned, he allowed nine hits. Three of those were infield hits, but two were home runs, as Thome and Paul Konerko struck for back-to-back shots in the first.

Of Chicago's three-run fourth inning, Garza said, "A couple more infield singles, a couple plays here and there that maybe could have been made or maybe we couldn't. It's just one of those days."

•Third baseman Brian Buscher had a home run and a run-scoring single in his first two at-bats but struggled defensively. His error on Toby Hall's hard grounder in the fourth inning led to two unearned runs, and a hard smash from Konerko caromed off his glove for a two-run, game-tying single.

•Kevin Slowey actually fared well. He relieved Garza with a 6-5 lead in the fifth inning, and it was 7-5 when Gardenhire turned to Cali with two outs in the seventh.

Why the hook?

Slowey had given up a one-out double to Juan Uribe, and with two outs, the lefthanded-hitting Pierzynski came up as a pinch hitter for Hall. The White Sox had three more lefthanded hitters coming.

Lefthanded hitters came in batting .309 with six home runs against Slowey, and just .214 against Cali. "You've got a lefty up for the lefties, that's the game," Gardenhire said. "He had four shots, and didn't get anybody out. That's a bad day."

Morales' day was bittersweet. His father had flown in from Puerto Rico and saw his son's first three big league at-bats go: single, double, single. But after stumbling awkwardly into second base on a broken play in the fifth inning, Morales lay on the ground writhing in pain.

Gardenhire said he would likely miss two or three weeks.

"Having my dad here, and my mother watched me from Puerto Rico, it was just great," Morales said. "I have no words."

Joe Christensen • jchristensen@startribune.com

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