The monumental sea change that the Sox ninth inning comeback offered proved to be just a passing wave. After Adam Eaton's RBI double against the platoon advantage in the ninth tied an otherwise dispiriting game at 4, two Daniel Webb walks proved one too many, and a walk-off Brian Dozier single off Ronald Belisario sent the Minnesotans home happy in the bottom half with a 5-4 win in a game the Twinkies mostly dominated.
The Sox comeback in the ninth off Glen Perkins started inauspiciously, with a deep, but playable flyball from Dayan Viciedo bouncing off the heel of Josh Willingham's glove for slow-motion triple. Pinch-hitter Paul Konerko brought the game within striking distance by lancing the first pitch he saw to center to make it 4-3. If it didn't feel magical enough already, the Siberia cold Tyler Flowers made it three hits in a row with a single to put pinch-runner Moises Sierra in scoring position, who came across to knot the game when Eaton slapped a bullet down the third base line.
The seemingly irrelevant move of pinch-running Sierra instead of Leury Garcia for Konerko, and putting in Adrian Nieto for Flowers, meant there was no one right-handed on the bench (Leury's technically a switch-hitter but come on, now). Rather than let Gordon Beckham hack away against Glen Perkins with go-ahead runs in scoring position, the Twins put Beckham on and let Conor Gillaspie ground into a double play to escape the top of the ninth with a tie.
Robin Ventura doesn't have too many reliable options in the bullpen, and while he stopped Webb's bottom ninth implosion in enough time to give Scott Downs and Ronald Belisario a chance, two baserunners was too much for them to pitch over. Downs got a soft lineout from Danny Santana, but Dozier ripped the game-winning single in front of Viciedo, who threw strong and accurately to home, but just didn't have enough time. The Sox angrily asked for a pointless review because they could.
Now those opening ten minutes of Friday evening's game--they were poetry. The sun was shining, the Hawk was chirping, Ricky Nolasco's curveballs were hanging like laundry in the warm morning breeze, and this game was fun. However, after Gordon Beckham and Jose Abreu ripped a pair of solo home runs off the Twins starter in the top of the first inning, this game stretched on for another two-and-a-half hours of despair.
Not only did that pair of blasts serve as the only White Sox scoring, they were the only extra-base hits they managed until the ninth, despite a thoroughly mediocre Nolasco, who mostly spent his time not being able to throw strikes and not paying for it. He eclipsed 100 pitches early in the sixth and gave way to the Twins bullpen after 5.1 innings, but only allowed eight baserunners.
Meanwhile. Hector Noesi sopped up a lot of innings in mediocre fashion, and spurred on Kurt Suzuki mythologizing from the announcing booth in the process. A booming double off the wall from Suzuki in the second gave us Dayan Viciedo overruning the carom, then overthrowing the cutoff man to such a degree that Alejandro De Aza had to gather it--both of which were more amusing than meaningful, since a two-run double from Eduardo Escobar's unending vengeance and a sacrifice fly from Sam Fuld handed the Twins a 3-2 lead.
A Suzuki ground ball too deep in the hole for Alexei Ramirez to rifle over in time with two outs in the third gave the Twins their fourth run. After which, Noesi magically switched into auto-pilot, retired 13 of his last 15 batters and lasted seven innings. Go figure.
Team Record: 35-39
Next Game: Friday at 1:10 p.m. CT at Minnesota on WGN
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