With first place on the line in the rubber game of a three-game series against the defending American League Central champion Twins, the White Sox played perhaps their worst game of the season Wednesday night.
The Sox got 1⅔ innings from starter Reynaldo Lopez, made a whopping four errors and managed only four hits in an ugly 8-1 loss that dropped them out of a first-place tie with the Indians.
“There’s no way to justify it or make excuses for it,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Just a bad night. Obviously, this was not a pretty ballgame. It’s not the type of baseball we’ve played.”
It was the fourth loss in six games for the Sox (22-15) against the Twins (22-16) this season, which is no way to state a case for being the best team in the division.
Rookie second baseman Nick Madrigal’s second error of the series preceded a two-out, two-run double by Josh Donaldson to put Lopez in a 3-0 hole and a botched rundown by third baseman Yoan Moncada and shortstop Tim Anderson were the two worst blemishes under a bright full moon in Minneapolis.
Moncada also had a throwing error on a routine play that didn’t factor into the Twins’ scoring, and Madrigal’s lob toss to Anderson almost denied Lopez of an inning-ending double play after he loaded the bases with no outs in the first. Eloy Jimenez, who struck out three times against All-Star right-hander Jose Berrios, misplayed Luis Arraez’s sinking liner for the fourth error of the night.
“Put it behind us,” Renteria said. “There is very little time left, no time to regurgitate it very much. Understand what we didn’t do correctly and move on.”
The Twins, who are 41-22 against the Sox since 2017, have outscored the Sox 43-28 this season. Lopez, making his third start since leaving his first one against the Twins in the first inning with a sore shoulder, hasn’t lasted longer than four innings yet. He allowed three runs (one earned), four hits and two walks and fell to 1-6 with a career ERA above 6 against the Twins.
Lopez might have pitched his way out of the rotation.
“He was getting so high in his pitch count, probably wiser to pull the plug right there,” Renteria said.
“We’ll probably have a discussion tomorrow . . . and make a decision.”
“I felt good before the game,” Lopez said. “Made some good pitches and some that weren’t so good.”
Jose Abreu, named AL Player of the Month, tried to downplay the significance of beating the Twins before the game.
“At the end, what matters for us is just understanding what we need to do in order to win games,” Abreu said. “We don’t have to be concerned about what other teams do. They do whatever they’re going to do, but it’s what we can do to win every game, what we need to do to get better. I respect other teams; I respect the Twins. But, honestly, I’m not concerned about what they do.”
The Sox had chances early against Berrios. Abreu and Edwin Encarnacion singled in the second, but Jimenez, Luis Robert and Nomar Mazara struck out swinging on Berrios curveballs.
They loaded the bases with one out in the third but settled for one run on Abreu’s bouncer to first baseman Miguel Sano, who could’ve forced Anderson at home had he not bobbled the ball.
It was the 6-4, 270-pound Sano who was caught in a rundown between second and third on Arraez’s ground ball to Abreu. Moncada, rather than running Sano back toward second, flipped too soon to Anderson, and Anderson’s return throw to Abreu covering third was wide, allowing Sano to score.
“If we work as a team and address the things we need to address to win games, we’re going to be good at the end of the season,” Abreu said. “Then we don’t have to worry about other teams and other circumstances.”