Phil Hughes took the mound today on the Southside of Chicago to make his Minnesota Twins debut; Josmil Pinto and Eduardo Escobar each also made their first start of the season as the Twins tried to bounce back after a tough extra innings loss on Wednesday that saw closer the bull pen give up a run in the 8th and two in the 9th to tie the game before Sam Deduno came into the game in the 11th and threw the ball everywhere but over the plate and the winning run scored on a wild pitch. Were Glen Perkins and the rest of the pen given a chance to redeem themselves today? Jose Quintana and the White Sox would surely have something to say about that.
The Twins were able to get an early lead off of Quintana, 5-1, but Hughes ran into some trouble in the 5th. Hughes left the game with the lead, 5-4 after 5 innings, but Anthony Swarzak was unable to keep the White Sox hitters quiet. He surrendered a pair of singles and a couple walks to tie the game before Jose Abreu crushed a bases clearing triple to put the Sox ahead 8-5. The Twins scratched a couple more runs across the plate in the 7th to make it a 1-run ball game and Josmil Pinto hit his first home run or the season to tie the game in the 8th, 8-8. The bullpen gave the run right back on a homer to Marcus Semien to put the White Sox back out front, 9-8. Trevor Plouffe singled home a run in the 9th to tie the game before Arcia blasted home a go-ahead triple to put the Twins back on top 10-9.
Quintana made quick work of the Twins in the first couple innings, striking out four through the first two innings of work, the only blemish on his outing early was a first inning single to Josh Willingham. Phil Hughes struggled with command early, walking the very first batter he faced and hitting another batsman, Jose Abrea, before the first inning was over. Hughes spent 25 pitches to get through the 1st, but kept the score knotted at zero heading into the second frame. In the second, Ricky Nolasco‘s Opening Day nemesis, Alejandro De Aza, put another tally on the board when he notched his third home run of the season in as many games.
In the top of the third, Quintana finally ran into some trouble that started with Escobar reaching on a dropped third strike. With Dozier batting, Escobar was caught in a pickle trying to steal 2nd base but was able to arrive safely at 2nd base after an error by the White Sox first basemen,Jose Abreu. So a pair of miscues put Escobar into scoring position, a combination Bert Blylevin referred to as a “Cleveland rally,” whatever that means. Brian Dozier and Willingham both worked walks around a Joe Mauer pop up to load the bases for Chris Colabello who hit a soft liner to right field that was misplayed by the right fielder, Avisail Garcia, allowing all of the runners to score, including Willingham who was lumbering all the way around from first base. Twins lead 3-1.
Hughes settled in on the mound and worked a couple of scoreless frames and kept the Twins up, 3-1, heading into the fifth. Joe Mauer notched his first hit of the season, a 2-out single (so very Joe Mauer of him), and Willingham singled him over to second to bring Colabello back to the plate with a chance to plate some more runs. Colabello belted another double out to right field that again allowed Hammer to make it home all the way from first base and add to their lead, 5-1.
Phil Hughes was back into trouble in the 5th. He gave up a leadoff triple to Adam Eaton, who scored two batters later when Jose Abreu doubled, 5-2 Twins. Adam Dunn got in on the long ball game and stroked his first home run of the season, a true no-doubter, to bring the White Sox within a run, 5-4. Hughes would not come back into the game and finished the day having struck out seven and walked one while giving up four runs (all earned) in 5 innings (97 pitches).
Quintana came back out for the 6th with his pitch count rising but quickly retired the side to keep the White Sox trailing by a single run. Anthony Swarzak entered the game for the Twins to start the bottom half of the inning. He recorded a quick out, but surrendered a couple of hits to the White Sox number 8 and 9 hitters before walking Eaton to load the bases for third basemen Marcus Semien. Semien walked to force home a run and tie the game at 5. Jose Abreu stepped to the plate and broke open the game when he crushed a hanging breaking ball to deep center that Aaron Hicks was unable to track down as it cut and sliced in the breezy Chicago weather, 8-5 White Sox. Aaron Hicks looked a little confused on his route to the ball. Oofdah. Brian Duensing, coming back from paternity leave, came in to stop the bleeding and make his first appearance of the year. Duensing struck-out Dunn and retired Garcia to end the sixth.
Nate Jones came onto the game for the White Sox in relief of Quintana who ended his day having surrendered 5 runs (2 earned) to go with 8 strikeouts and 3 walks. Jones surrendered back-to-back walks to Dozier and Mauer and was pulled from the game for Maikel Cleto. Dozier stole third and Mauer took 2nd on a wild pitch by Cleto. Hammer then popped up to the first basemen and Colabello tallied another RBI when he grounded out to the 2nd basemen, 8-6 White Sox. Plouffe singled up the middle to score Mauer and bring the Twins within a run, 8-7. Jones has faced three batters this season, he walked all three and each came home to score. White Sox centerfielder Adam Eaton robbed Oswaldo Arcia of a potential game-tying extra-base hit to end the half-inning. Duensing was back out for the bottom half of the inning and worked quickly to keep the Twins within striking distance.
Ronaldo Belisario entered the game for the White Sox in the 8th and Josmil Pinto crushed a home run into the White Sox bullpen in left field to tie the game at 8. Caleb Thielbar replaced Duensing to start the bottom of the 8th inning. Unfortunately the bullpen malfunctioned again, Thielbar gave up a long home run to Marcus Semien and the White Sox were back on top, 9-8.
Matt Lindstrom took the mound in the 9th for Chicago with a chance to record his 2nd save of the year. Mauer was called out on strikes, his 2nd strike out of the game. Hammer walked and was lifted for pinch runner Jason Bartlett. Colabello was unable to come through to add to his record 6-RBI day and left the Twins fate to the bat of Trevor Plouffe. With two outs and Bartlett at second base, training by a single run, Plouffe singled to right field and tied the game at 9. This time Arcia got the best of White Sox centerfielder, Adam Eaton, belting a go-ahead triple just over his outstretched glove, 10-9 Twins.
Glen Perkins was back out to the mound in the bottom half of the inning for the Twins after blowing his first save opportunity yesterday. Dayan Viciedo pinch hit for De Aza and popped up just behind first base, but Colabello lost it and the ball got caught up in the wind and dropped between three fielders. Viciedo hustled down to 2nd with a double and took third on a throwing error. Alexei Ramirez lined out to Florimon for the second out, keeping the runner at third. Paul Konerko entered the game with a chance to win the ball game but hit a weak ground ball to Plouffe who threw across the diamond to end the game. Twins win, 10-9! Twins are now 1-2 on the season and head to Cleveland for a Friday, Saturday, Sunday series against the Tribe before coming home to Target Field on Monday for the Home Opener against the Oakland Athletics.
The Twins finished the day 9-for-37, and stranded only 6 of their 16 base runners today, going 4-for-10 with runners in scoring position while striking out 9 times and taking 6 walks, 5 of which came home to score, WALKS WILL HAUNT!
On the other side of the ball, the Twins pitching staff gave up 9 runs on 13 hits and 3 walks. Hughes lead the day with 7 of the staff’s 8 strikeouts. Thielbar is credited with the win and Perkins earns his first save of the season.