CHICAGO – The worst of Twins baseball was on display throughout their six-game road trip to Kansas City and Chicago.
Baserunning blunders. Terrible situational hitting. Throwing to the wrong base. Overthrowing cutoff men.
Danny Santana missed a hit-and-run sign in the second inning Sunday. Where have the fundamentals gone with this team?
Yet the Twins were able to head home smiling because they steamrolled the White Sox for nine runs in the eighth inning on their way to a 16-3 rout at U.S. Cellular Field. They sent 14 batters to the plate that inning, with eight consecutive batters reaching base during one stretch.
It was an emphatic turnaround finish to a trip in which the Twins stunk at times.
“You know you’re not going to be part of many of those,” said third baseman Trevor Plouffe, who was 2-for-4 with an RBI and three walks. “Those are few and far between. It was just cool to see everyone go up there and not give away any at-bats, even when we were up.”
This extends the list of blowout victories the Twins have enjoyed in Chicago through the years. Among those: On July 6, 2007, the Twins won a doubleheader by scores of 20-14 and 12-0 — with Justin Morneau hitting three home runs in the second game. On May 21, 2009, Gardenhire decided to shake up the lineup a little, put Joe Mauer in the 2 hole and watched his team win 20-1 as Mauer drove in six runs.
The nine runs the Twins scored in the eighth Sunday were the most in an inning since they scored 10 in the fifth inning on Sept. 4, 2012 — at U.S. Cellular Field in an 18-9 victory over the White Sox.
Games like these come out of nowhere, and Sunday’s game was no different. Most meetings between these teams this season have been white-knuckle affairs, with 10 of the 13 games decided by two runs or fewer.
It appeared to be headed in the same direction Sunday, when the Twins led 4-3 through seven innings.
But after the top of the eighth, it was time to look into the record book to the most hits the Twins have had in a game. It’s 25 in 2002 against Cleveland. They got close, finishing with 23.
Danny Santana had two hits in the inning, including a tying RBI triple, and finished 5-for-6, a homer shy of the cycle. Fans were booing White Sox reliever Ronald Belisario, who gave up 10 runs in three appearances against the Twins over eight days. The stadium began to empty as the Twins recorded one hit after another.
“The ball started flying all over the place,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Everything seemed to land somewhere. Bloops and blops and some home runs, too. A good outburst by us.”
Andre Rienzo came in to mop up in the ninth for the White Sox. But Chris Parmelee, Oswaldo Arcia and Eric Fryer hit back-to-back-to-back home runs to make it 16-3.
Arcia’s home run cleared the stands — the entire section — in right, landing on the concourse behind it. It was estimated at 452 feet, the longest of the season by a Twins player.
But Dozier thought Arcia, who also hit a two-run double in the eighth inning, was shortchanged on the distance.
“Who’s measuring this?” Dozier asked. “The guy who brought [Arcia] the ball said he’s been working here for 20 years and it was the farthest home run he’s ever seen hit at this stadium. It was the farthest home run I’ve seen.”
La Velle E. Neal III • firstname.lastname@example.org