Shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka fell to the dirt chasing a ground ball in the hole in the third inning Sunday. But he was able to throw to second base for a force out.

Marlin Levison, Star Tribune


White Sox earn sweep of ugly Twins

  • Article by: ALEX PREWITT
  • Star Tribune
  • August 8, 2011 - 2:13 AM

A weekend intended to celebrate the Twins' triumphant past quickly devolved into one marked by disappointment at the frustrating now.

With members of the last World Series-winning Twins team in town to relive the glory of 1991, the current squad reverted to the struggles of early 2011, losing to Chicago 7-0 in an ugly outing at Target Field that had manager Ron Gardenhire searching for answers.

"We're going deeper and deeper in the hole. Again," Gardenhire said. "We've been there once, and we're going right back to it, and it's very frustrating."

The White Sox hadn't swept the Twins on the road in seven years but jumped on starter Brian Duensing early and often. Brent Lillibridge hit a 401-foot bomb into the second deck in the second inning, his second homer in as many games, and Paul Konerko launched one to the same spot in the fourth.

Chicago swatted four homers, all pulled to left field, for the first time since May 24.

"We're not throwing very well as pitchers, and we're not scoring very many runs. When both of those things are going badly, it's hard to win ballgames," said Duensing, echoing Gardenhire's notion of the Twins falling into the hole again.

The Twins' offense struggled against starter Jake Peavy, who hadn't won in more than six weeks and entered with a 6.11 ERA since June 30. They mustered three hits over eight innings against the righty and none after the third.

"I think we're all pretty frustrated," said Michael Cuddyer, who went 0-for-3 before Danny Valencia replaced him in the ninth. "It's not fun to go out and lose. It's not fun to lose handily. They stuck it to us all three games. We didn't really even have much of a fight, so to speak, especially today. Today was kind of ugly."

Peavy allowed only one baserunner after the third -- Matt Tolbert was hit by a pitch -- and had many of the 39,353 fans at Target Field scrambling for the exits early.

A potentially bright second half of the season for the Twins has since sharply declined into mediocrity following a 4-6 road trip and the brooms-laden weekend. Things won't get any easier with the Red Sox, owners of MLB's best offense, arriving for a three-game set.

"That's perfect. After all this stuff, you get a knuckleballer coming in here and flinging it all over the place," said Gardenhire, referring to Monday's starter, Tim Wakefield. "They always say knuckleballers can screw your swing up. Well maybe he'll unscrew our swings up."

In three games against the White Sox, the Twins scored only four runs and committed five errors in getting swept at home for the first time since May 13-15.

The clubhouse once brimmed with optimism when .500 approached striking distance in mid-July, but matters have quickly turned perplexing, leaving Gardenhire to ponder what his team can do with 48 games left.

"That's the thing I've got to find out," Gardenhire said. "As a manager, I'm sitting here wondering what the heck's going on. I saw a team out there that looked flat today."

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