Just when you thought the Twins had become predictable, they pull out a game like Sunday's 4-3 victory over Chicago. This one came the hard way; they finally got an early lead (for the first time in the series), squandered it, rallied in the seventh inning and withstood a late charge by the White Sox. Thus ends the home stand, with a 3-7 record and a rather huge sigh of relief.
Yohan Pino got the win with a solid effort. He mixed his pitches well and was effective with all of them, striking out six and allowing two runs on four hits with one walk. Danny Santana knocked in two big runs; he gave the Twins that early lead with a triple that scored Eduardo Escobar, then after they fell behind 2-1, he launched a sacrifice fly in the seventh that tied the game. And Sam Fuld gets the game ball for a seventh-inning single that scored the winning runs.
Closer Glen Perkins added to the drama, loading the bases on two singles and a walk before digging in for the final two outs. Manager Ron Gardenhire called it "as tense a ninth inning as you can get,'' while Fuld praised his team for its tenacity.
"Today was a real good win, given that we battled,'' he said. "When you're in a rut and give up a lead like that, it's easy to fold up and get down. But we stuck with it, and we fought.
"This gives us a little more confidence going into the road trip. I hope can build on it. We understand maybe we've struggled a little bit, but if we stay positive, good things will happen. The goal is not to look too much at the big picture; just stay in the moment and play hard every day, and don’t get caught up in too many things. The way you come back is to not look too far ahead. I think that’s the way most teams come back, just to not think you have to win 10 of the next 12. Win one at a time, and see what happens.''
The Twins still managed a few boneheaded moves. In the sixth, with Gordon Beckham on third, Adam Eaton hit a sharp grounder to Chris Parmelee. Parmelee looked Beckham back at third, then took his time getting to first, allowing Eaton to slide safely into the bag head-first. The play withstood a replay challenge, and Eaton scored on Jose Abreu's double to put the White Sox ahead 2-1.
Twins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia also broke a bat over his right leg after his third strikeout of the day. Gardenhire said he would speak to him about it--not the kind of thing you want to model to the kids in the ballpark, after all--but praised Arcia for caring deeply about his performance.
"He’s a young player,'' Gardenhire said. "He's got things to learn, yes, but he gives a flip, I know that. Today was a rough day for him. That wasn’t very good breaking it over your knee, but he's been busting his tail. I'm real proud of that kid, because it hasn't been going great for him, and he's been battling pretty damn hard.''
Next up: a day off Monday, then three games in Kansas City and three more in Chicago.
Other notes from Sunday:
--GM Terry Ryan said he will not be swayed by fans' desires when it comes to bringing up prospects. "We've been through this long enough to realize what's right for the club, what's right for the player and what's right for the fans,'' he said. "We know how tough this game is. Just because a kid's putting up numbers in the minor leagues doesn’t mean it's going to happen here. My job is to make sure I do the right thing by the player and the organization.''
--Perkins cited inconsistency, not a lack of talent, as the Twins' biggest problem. "I've said many times we're not a bad team,'' he said. "We're inconsistent. That’s because we score runs one day and we don’t the next day, and we pitch good one day and we don’t pitch good the next day. That’s been the most frustrating part. We've just been inconsistent. Hopefully, we’ll show up, go to KC and play the baseball we know we're capable of and do it on offense and defense.''
--Gardenhire, on what the Twins must do to change their fortunes: "The one thing that makes baseball fun is when you're crossing that plate. When you start scoring some runs and running across the plate, everybody seems to get into it. But when you're constantly sitting there and you're getting nobody on, we're having three quick outs and going back out there, that’s the frustrating part. Because guys are frustrated with their swing, with not getting hits, it just builds through the game. We need our pitchers to do better, no doubt, that’s obvious. We can't keep getting behind and going to the bullpen; that’s just killing us. And then we need to score some runs.''
That's it from me, as La Velle and Phil return Monday.