Last week, the White Sox took a look at a Twins team that was struggling and well off the pace in the AL Central, and decided to kick them while they’re down, and swept them at Sox Park. This week, the Sox kept that mojo going, taking two out of three in Minnesota.
Monday’s game was a laugher, until Yermin Mercedes clobbered a 45-mph pitch from a position player over the 411 mark in center field on a 3-0 count to make a 15-4 game a 16-4 game. It prompted two full days of animated discussion about the “unwritten rules of baseball” with Tony La Russa playing the role of the old man yelling at the cloud.
What made that worse is the impression that La Russa was taking the side of the rival Twins, apologizing to the Twins for the “mistake” of swinging on a 3-0 pitch in a blowout, and the following day, being okay with Twins reliever Danny Duffy throwing at Mercedes.
For all the talk about “respect for the game of baseball” which La Russa spoke of to the media, La Russa needs to do a better job of defending his players, regardless of whatever “mistakes” the player makes. He shouldn’t be defending the opposing player for throwing at his guy.
Tuesday, the Sox let one slip away, as they jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but weren’t able to add on when they had chances, and the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead, as the Twins came all the way back on the strength of three dingers from Miguel Sano, and a Jorge Polanco RBI single in the bottom of the 9th gave Minnesota a much-needed win that could easily have given the scuffling Twins some momentum.
But Lucas Giolito sapped that momentum from the Twins with a masterful performance Wednesday afternoon, going 8 strong innings, fanning 11 and only allowing one run on two hits and walking three. He got some help from Andrew Vaughn who, filling in at first base, started and finished a snappy 3-6-3 double play diving to his right to get out of a potential jam.
Adam Eaton got the Sox on the board with a hustling infield single to drive in a run in the 5th inning with two out, and Leury Garcia drove a ball to the wall in right to put the Sox on top for good in the 6th. Then, Giolito took over, and handed the ball to closer Liam Hendriks in the 9th, who looked every bit the dominant closer he has been the last couple years, striking out two of the three batters he faced to seal the series victory.
The Sox will take Thursday off to head to the Big Apple to take on the New York Yankees for a three-game weekend set starting Friday.