MINNESOTA 3, CHICAGO 1 IN CHICAGO
Date: Tuesday, August 27.
Batting stars: Nelson Cruz was 2-for-4. Marwin Gonzalez was 1-for-3 with a home run, his fifteenth. Jonathan Schoop was 1-for-4 with a home run, his nineteenth.
PItching stars: Michael Pineda struck out eight in five innings, giving up one run on four hits and a walk. Sam Dyson pitched a perfect inning. Tyler Duffey pitched a scoreless inning, giving up two hits. Sergio Romo struck out the side in a perfect inning. Taylor Rogers pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.
Opposition stars: Lucas Giolito struck out nine in six innings, giving up two runs on four hits and three walks. Yolmer Sanchez was 2-for-3. Tim Anderson was 1-for-4 with a home run, his fourteenth.
The game: The Twins put two on with one out in the first, as Jorge Polanco walked and Cruz singled, but nothing came of it. In the second, however Gonzalez led off with a home run and Schoop hit a two-out homer, giving the Twins a 2-0 lead. Pineda got through the first three innings without allowing a hit, but that changed when Anderson led off the fourth with a home run, cutting the margin to 2-1. The White Sox also got a pair of two-out singles in the inning, but a ground out ended the threat.
Chicago got a threat going in the seventh, getting singles from Ryan Goins and Sanchez with one out. Matt Skole struck out and Leury Garcia lined to third to end the inning. The Twins got an insurance run in the eighth on singles by Polanco, Cruz, and Eddie Rosario. The last eight White Sox were retired and the game belonged to the Twins.
WP: Pineda (10-5). LP: Giolito (14-7). S: Rogers (21).
Notes: Jake Cave was in center in the continued absence of Byron Buxton. Gonzalez was in right in place of Max Kepler. Kepler pinch-hit for Gonzalez in the eighth and went to center field, with Cave moving to right. Rosario returned to the lineup in left field.
Duffey has an ERA of 2.80. Rogers has an ERA of 2.47.
Pineda pitched well, but threw just five innings and eighty-nine pitches when he was removed from the game. When that decision was made, we knew that either one of our top three relievers would pitch more than one inning or that we'd see Tyler Duffey with the game on the line. Rocco clearly decided that was a better option than trying to push Pineda into a sixth inning, and he was proven to be right. Duffey was a little shaky, but got the job done.
Duffey has, in fact, pitched very well lately. He hasn't given up a run in over a month. On July 23 his ERA was 3.82 and today it is 2.80. That's fourteen appearances and twelve innings. He has given up just six hits and five walks. I still not sure how much I trust him with the game on the line, but he's been getting the job done.
This felt like a big game to win. Time will tell if it actually is, of course. But while the White Sox are not a good team, Giolito is a really good pitcher and he had shut the Twins down just last week. The pitching matchups for the rest of the series seem much more favorable, although as we've said many times, it's baseball and you never know. That means the Twins should have a good chance to sweep the series. That would be good, because Cleveland is playing Detroit, and the Indians don't seem to be having any trouble taking care of business against the weak teams of the league. As we approach September, the Twins need to do the same.
Record: The Twins are 80-51, in first place in the American League Central, 3.5 games ahead of Cleveland.
Projected record: We're still on track for 111-51!