The Twins’ home run prowess is reaching levels rarely seen in Minnesota. Their pitching can simply be hard to watch.
Sometimes that combination produces dramatic baseball. Sunday, both the Twins and White Sox starting pitchers were battered, both teams blew four-run leads, both closers fizzled in the ninth, and six balls landed beyond the outfield fence. The result was a 24-run, 34-hit bender of offensive intoxication, a game, ultimately won 13-11 by Chicago in the 12th inning, that Paul Molitor said ranks among the Twins’ top five this season.
Oh wait: He meant the top five most frustrating.
“To have an offensive game like that, to have the [pitchers] you want in the game at the end with a chance — I don’t know how many we’ve had that would rank up there, but [this one] is in the top five,” Molitor said.
Chicago rookie Tim Anderson lined a one-out slider into the left field corner off Pat Dean (1-6), driving home two runs in the 12th inning and keeping the Twins from winning a home series for the first time since July. The teams split four games, hitting 18 homers between them.
The Twins smacked four homers for the second day in a row, a display of slugging they have managed only twice in the past 52 seasons. But that wasn’t enough, not with Jose Abreu and his White Sox teammates using Target Field for batting practice. Abreu blasted a pair of three-run homers and drove in seven runs.
“The three-run homer in the first, that makes it a pretty tough outing,” Twins starter Andrew Albers said. “I felt like I made some good pitches, but you throw that pitch in there, it makes it look a lot worse.”
It’s hard to make this game look much worse. The Twins used seven pitchers, and five gave up runs. They had a 9-5 lead with Taylor Rogers, Ryan Pressly and Brandon Kintzler lined up to pitch the final three innings, and all three surrendered critical runs. Kintzler blew his second save in 15 chances, with Avisail Garcia grounding a two-run single to put Chicago in front.
Albers was removed an out short of qualifying for a victory, his first since Aug. 12, 2013, and it seemed like a disappointment at the time. But Chicago scored eight more runs, making the Twins’ early outburst look flimsy.
“Yeah, you’re one out away from possibly being in line for a win, but that’s not what it’s about,” said Albers, who was sabotaged, too, by errors from Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco. “The disappointing thing is I didn’t give us a better chance to win.”
The offense certainly did. Byron Buxton launched a grand slam to straightaway center, his third homer of the series; Sano homered for the second day in a row; and John Ryan Murphy, just up after four months at Class AAA Rochester, chipped in three hits, including his first home run.
And Brian Dozier continued his romp into the record books, crushing an Anthony Ranaudo fastball into the seats in the fourth inning, giving him 35 homers on the season, fifth-most in the American League. Only Harmon Killebrew (eight times), Bob Allison (1963) and Josh Willingham (2012) had hit that many in Twins history.
“Shoot, that’s baseball,” Dozier said of the ugly loss. “We swung the bats well, that’s what’s frustrating.”