Some 5,000 Target Field customers waited almost five hours Thursday to watch a game that was over in about 20 minutes.
Rookie lefthander Nik Turley, his third major league start delayed all afternoon by a steady summer shower, made a brief, and perhaps final, appearance on the mound for the Twins. Six of the eight Chicago batters Turley faced racked up hits, two of them smashed long home runs, and the Twins went quietly after that, closing their 11-game homestand with a 9-0 loss.
The Twins now embark on a difficult 11-game road trip, but Turley won't be with them, having been optioned back to Class AAA Rochester after the shutout loss — Minnesota's first of the season — finally ended.
"He got a chance to learn up here. He fought his way up here and went through a lot," Twins manager Paul Molitor said after Turley's ERA ballooned to 16.39. "Hopefully he's learned and keeps himself on the radar. As we all know, our starting depth is in need of people that keep themselves in the mix."
They need people who throw strikes, too, an ability that has eluded Turley in each of his three starts. On Thursday, Turley fell behind each of the first five hitters he faced, and four of them took advantage by smashing hits all over the park — two of them out of it. Jose Abreu crushed an 0-1 fastball five rows deep into the left-field bleachers, Avisail Garcia followed with a double into the corner, and Todd Frazier launched a 3-2 fastball into the White Sox bullpen, staking Chicago to a 4-0 lead before hecklers had even warmed up.
Turley faced three more batters, two of whom singled, and his very-long-yet-very-short day was over after 33 pitches. "Getting behind all the time didn't allow him to use his curveball very much," Molitor said. Turley didn't throw a curve, in fact, until facing Matt Davidson, six batters in, "which was kind of surprising to everybody," the manager added. "It just got out of hand. I wanted to try to get him through, because I needed some innings, but when it got to [4-0], I tried to stop the bleeding."
Five other Twins pitchers took their turns facing the White Sox, the last of them catcher Chris Gimenez, who made his sixth appearance on the mound this season. Depending on how you define "position player" — excluding some players, such as ex-Cardinal Rick Ankiel, who switched positions midcareer — that might be the most such emergency outings in major league history, and certainly since the 1940s.
Turley goes down in Twins history, too; his first three career starts, since being called up June 11, have totaled 9⅓ innings, and included 17 runs allowed on 23 hits. His 16.39 ERA is the second-worst ever by a Minnesota pitcher in his first three career starts, topped only by Pete Filson's 17.47 mark in 1982.
Buddy Boshers allowed two runs in two innings, and Craig Breslow two in 2⅔ as well, but it hardly mattered with Jose Quintana on the mound. The Chicago lefthander shut out the Twins on only five hits over 6⅔ innings, striking out nine while issuing no walks.
"He knows how to use a lead. His changeup was really good, we had trouble picking it up all day. His curveball was there, too," Molitor said of Quintana. "He got them deep in the game, protected their bullpen after they were overused the last couple days. He did what a veteran, polished starter will do."