CHICAGO – Tyler Duffey did a little extra for his team Sunday. It didn't matter. Lately, nothing does.
Duffey struck out four White Sox batters in the seventh inning, a feat that only three Twins have accomplished in the past three decades. But he also allowed three runs, and that was easily enough offense to beat the bedeviled Twins these days.
"I didn't even know I did that until after the game," Duffey said of his four-strikeout inning, a performance matched last by Francisco Liriano in 2012 and Scott Baker in 2008. "It's great, but when you give up more runs than the other guys, it doesn't even matter."
Duffey was on a strikeout roll anyway, his curveball frequently freezing Chicago's lineup of superior fastball hitters.
"I threw a lot of curveballs today," he said. "But it doesn't matter how many you punch out."
Well, four is certainly rare. But he couldn't even enjoy it, because the wild pitch that created the opportunity also turned into a White Sox run, and turned a one-run game into a two-run cushion. He whiffed Brett Lawrie and Avisail Garcia to open the inning, but Garcia's third strike wound up at the backstop, and he reached first base safely.
Duffey blamed himself, not catcher Juan Centeno.
"I made sure to bounce it, and I think it was too short. It's a fine line there, and when you hit the plate, it's tough to block," Duffey said. "I told Juan after that, 'There's nothing you could have done.' "
Dioner Navarro followed with a double, his third of the series, to score Garcia. Duffey then struck out Austin Jackson on a foul-tipped fastball, and after an intentional walk to Adam Eaton, he got Jimmy Rollins to swing and miss a 3-and-2 curveball.
Liriano accomplished the feat against the Royals in the fourth inning on June 5, 2012, and Baker struck out four Brewers in the third inning on June 15, 2008. And in all three cases, the Twins went on to lose the game.
Plouffe in pain
Trevor Plouffe swung and missed a Jose Quintana fastball to strike out in the first inning, then grabbed his side as he headed for his position. Head athletic trainer Dave Pruemer and manager Paul Molitor jogged out to check on him, but Plouffe assured them he still could play.
"There are a few times when I'll feel it throughout the day, but other than that, I'm good to go. It's not an issue. It's not something that limits me," Plouffe said. "Sometimes I over-rotate, mostly when I swing and miss. There's a little bit of pain, but it goes away quickly."
Still, Molitor said, he intends to have Plouffe examined when the Twins return home Monday.
"He tells us he's fine, but when you see a guy buckle over, it concerns you," the manager said. "But he speaks very strongly about his opinion he should be playing."
Plouffe spent two weeks on the disabled list earlier this year because of a strained intercostal muscle.
•Molitor intends to remain publicly silent on the presidential election coming up this fall, but he has a personal connection to the likely candidates: He's met them both. He happened to board an elevator at Yankee Stadium during one of the Twins' playoff games in 2009 or 2010, he said, and Donald Trump was on it. The billionaire didn't recognize him until "I introduced myself," Molitor said. And he met Hillary Clinton several years before that, when he attended a dinner for Hall of Famers that was being emceed by Tim Russert, then host of "Meet the Press."
•General Manager Terry Ryan said he hadn't read Twins owner Jim Pohlad's "100 percent" support of him in Friday's Star Tribune, but he wasn't surprised by it.
"He's said that many times. He's very gracious, and I appreciate that," Ryan said. "But we're 8-."