The Twins entered Thursday night’s contest twirling their way through a 13-game losing streak that will probably get frequently referred to when retracing how they lost 100 games in 2016. During said streak, the Twins had allowed 96 runs, or around 7.3 per game. If one wanted to gradually transition a major league team into a group of personal trainers that directed others to undertake a routine of light jogging, the Twins pitching staff had taken the first, necessary step on that path.
On the other end of that spectrum, starting for the White Sox was Jose Quintana, the now-deposed AL ERA leader. Quintana had reeled off eight-straight quality starts coming in and compiled a 1.81 ERA over that stretch.
This seemed like a night that would offer the Sox a bit more certainty than the typical ‘breaks of the game’ nonsense, but no. No no. No no no no. That’s not how it turned out.
1. It’s no small source of amusement that Thursday’s game went about playing exactly to type for roughly 25 minutes. Quintana struck out two in a perfect first inning, and after escaping three singles in the top of that first inning, Ervin Santana served up a center cut fastball to Todd Frazier that the Sox home run leader lasered into the left field seats for an early 1-0 lead in the second.
2. It turns out there was a bit of accurate foreshadowing in the earlygoing, it just wasn’t the Cy Young contender shoving nor the home run-addicted third baseman getting his power fix. The reason Santana was able to pitch over three hits in the first, was because after wunderkind Tim Anderson singled to center, he was drilled in the calf by a Melky Cabrera line drive while leading off first. Anderson was out as a result of the play, making him the only one of the Sox first eight runners on the basepaths that they did not simply strand, and then he left the game to nurse his injury after the top of the third.
3. The luck would continue. While the Sox put together a 2-for-14 night with runners in scoring position, the Twins went 4-for-8. Three-straight singles in the second, capped off by Kurt Suzuki winning a seven-pitch battle, would tie the game at 1-1, but the Twins would take the lead on a wild pitch. Against No. 9 hitter Byron Buxton, the strikeout-prone former No. 1 global prospect that the Twins have succeeded in turning into a taxi squad member this year, Quintana would typically seize the opportunity to minimize the damage. Instead, Buxton fouled off two pitches after falling behind 0-2, caught hold of a curve and launched it into the second-deck in left for a back-breaking three-run home run. Quintana would strike out the next four batters in a row, but never regained his air of supremacy, allowing a two-run blast to Trevor Plouffe in the fifth, after he caught hold of a seemingly well-located outside fastball.
From a runs and innings standpoint, this was unquestionably his worst start of the year. Yet Quintana struck out eight and walked none, and played the part of a dominant pitcher who got rather inexplicably nailed to great conviction.
4. The Sox were not lacking for offense–they collected 15 hits–but were short on offensive heroes. Jose Abreu pounded a tape measure home run to right-center in the sixth to reach 20 for the season, and led the team with three hits. Carlos Sanchez filled in for Anderson and smacked two doubles, scoring when Cabrera missed a home run by inches in the fourth, and knocking in Adam Eaton from first in the eighth. Avisail Garcia–who is being evaluated, you know–went 0-for-4 and struck out three times, cracking his bat over his knee on the last whiff of the night.
5. September callup Juan Minaya made his major league debut in the eighth, pitching a scoreless frame and getting over a leadoff walk when he struck out Suzuki while Alex Avila threw out Jorge Polanco at second.
Team Record: 63-70
Next game is Friday at 7:10pm CT at Minnesota on CSN
Lead Image Credit: Jordan Johnson // USA Today Sports Image