Two potent offensive ballclubs collided at 35th and Shield’s on Chicago’s South Side Monday night in the first of a crucial 4 game series, and the Twins and White Sox combined for *checks notes* a whopping zero home runs, and four total runs scored. The good news is, three of those four were scored by the White Sox as they took the opener by a 3-1 count.
Late inning scoring. The White Sox lead the AL in runs scored in the 7th inning or later, with 81 runs scored, and the two they got in the 8th inning proved to be the difference in an unusually low-scoring affair between two of the most powerful offenses in the AL. They took advantage of a leadoff walk to Yoan Moncada, which was followed by a walk to Luis Robert, setting up pinch-hitter Adam Engel’s RBI single as he faked a bunt and slapped a ground ball up the middle to drive Moncada home. Tim Anderson’s 3rd hit of the night drove Robert home with a ringing double off the left-field wall.
Yoan Moncada. He didn’t register a hit, but he walked three times (!!!) and scored twice. He was also solid defensively, taking away a sure RBI double away from the Twins early in the ball game.
Eloy Jimenez. We’re gonna gloss over his misplay of a ball in left field in the 9th inning that was originally called an inside-the-park-homer, and focus on the fact that he continues to swing a hot bat, going 2-for-3, and using the opposite field to do so. He’s at his best when he’s going the other way, and that stroke will serve him, and the White Sox well going forward.
Adam Engel. Engel came on in the 8th as a pinch-hitter to move runners into scoring position with a bunt, but credit here to Ricky Renteria, who told Engel to read the potential bunt play defense the Twins had on. After fouling off the first pitch with a bunt attempt, he saw that the middle infielders vacated their positions for the corner bags, and faked the bunt and grounded a base hit up the middle, driving in the winning run. Savvy baseball smarts and perfect execution got the job done for Engel and the Sox in the 8th.
Tim Anderson. The AL batting leader continues to pile up hits, with another three Monday night, bringing his average to .369 (nice!). He narrowly missed a home run in the 8th which would have blown the game open. He, too, made some stellar plays defensively, keeping the Twins off the scoreboard.
Pitching wizardry. Harry Houdini would be proud of the escape artistry that White Sox pitching pulled off Monday. The Twins had 8 hits, and Sox hurlers issued a whopping 10 free passes (more on that below). Somehow, the Twinkies only scored a single run. They managed to leave 14 Twins baserunners stranded on the basepaths.
Walks. The Sox walked TEN hitters Monday night. Not a recipe for success against a typically potent Twins offense. Somehow, they still found a way to win. But going forward, you can’t expect the Twins to squander this many chances to score.
The win gave the Sox a 2 game lead on the Twins in the AL Central, and 5 over idle Cleveland, who open a 3 game set at Clark and Addison tomorrow. More importantly, the Sox are ahead by 3 in the loss column on the Twins with 3 games left in the season series. And their magic number to clinch a playoff spot is down to 4. Dane Dunning gets the ball in game two Tuesday night.