Twins Daily: Sloppy D, stolen bases negate solid outing by Carl Pavano
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
MINNEAPOLIS -- Despite a solid effort by Carl Pavano, the combination of sloppy defense and a lack of clutch hitting did the Minnesota Twins no favors in a 6-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox at Target Field on Saturday night.
Pavano bounced back from a recent rough stretch with eight solid innings, but it wasn't good enough to beat right-hander Zach Stewart and a White Sox bullpen which combined to hold the Twins (51-62) to just one run.
Chicago jumped in front 1-0 in the fifth inning on an RBI single by Paul Konerko, then scored the game's decisive run in part because of yet another Twins' defensive miscue.
Standing on second base, Juan Pierre made the gutsy and possibly ill-advised decision to steal third base with two outs. Catcher Drew Butera came up firing and snapped a perfect throw to the bag, but the ball skipped off the glove of third baseman Danny Valencia and rolled into right field, allowing Pierre to score easily.
Alejandro De Aza scored Chicago's third run on a throwing error by Butera in the top of the ninth, and a few batters later -- after Joe Nathan issued a walk and allowed a stolen base -- Brent Lillibridge hit a two-run homer to make it 6-1.
"A little disappointing there at the end," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We had a lot of chances throughout the ballgame. We got a great start from Pavano, and we had plenty of opportunities to get a run in and tie the ballgame up, and it didn't work out. Then there a the end, we didn't play very good defense, We didn't hold runners. They started running on us and we didn't do a very good job of holding the runners. ...
"Holding runners, catching the ball, throwing the ball around at the end is pretty disappointing. A good baseball game up to that point."
The Twins cut the margin to 2-1 when Valencia singled home Kubel in the sixth inning, but that was the only dent Minnesota would put in the scoreboard.
Pavano wound up allowing two runs (one earned) on nine hits in eight innings, striking out five and walking only one, but the loss drops the Twins 11 games under .500 and 10 games back in the division.
"I'm going to still continue to work and continue to do my job and go out there and play good baseball and pitch to win," Pavano said. "I mean, there's really no other way to look at it for me. You can talk to the other guys, but we've got enough talent in this clubhouse to win ballgames and play better baseball, and we're not doing it ... It's not one person, it's the team."
The Twins had a golden chance to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth inning when Michael Cuddyer started the frame with a double to the gap in right-center off lefty Chris Sale.
Shortly after, Sale bounced a breaking ball in the dirt past catcher A.J. Pierzynski, allowing Cuddyer to reach third with nobody out. Cuddyer rounded third and charged for home as Pierzynski initially could not find the ball. But because it skipped up over the Twins' dugout, Cuddyer was forced to return to third base.
Sale recovered by inducing weak groundouts from Jason Kubel and Jim Thome. Right-hander Jason Frasor then came in and struck out Valencia on three pitches.
"I'll take my chances (with) Kubel and Thome," Cuddyer said. "It's not a bad twosome going up there. With the infield in, you've got to get the bat on the ball and you've got to make hard contact. You have to tip your hat to the kid. He's throwing the living fire out of the ball."
47: Months between series victories for the White Sox over the Twins in Minneapolis. Chicago took two out of three from the Twins at the Metrodome September 21-23, 2007.
4: Stolen bases by the White Sox. "There's a lot of things you can do -- step off, inside move, the whole package," Gardenhire said. "You're yelling at your infielders ... You've got to get it done on the mound too. It's not just throwing the ball, you've got to hold runners. You can't just let them run and get in scoring position, and we did that very badly at the end of the game."
2: Runs scored by the White Sox as a result of Twins errors. "Those are the really frustrating things, because when you're in these games, and your offense isn't driving in the runs and clicking, you know that anytime you get a walk or an error, it's going to cost you," Gardenhire said. "It always comes back to get you."
1-for-10: The Twins' offense with runners in scoring position on Saturday.
10: Games in a row for Thome with at least one hit.
"I mean, I've been giving up stolen bases. Guys are out there running on me like they're on (expletive) fire. It's like a damn track meet."
-- Pavano, who has now allowed 21 stolen bases in 23 attempts this season.
"He got to the ball and looked like he tried to leap. I don't know if he could have Supermanned it and jumped up there. I don't know, the ball was in the seats. I'd say first you look at the pitch. It was a bad pitch, and the guy creamed it pretty good. And then you can say Delmon should have jumped in the stands and caught it, I don't know. It's up to you. You guys make that decision. I can't really tell, I don't know. He got back and jumped, and maybe he's just not a great jumper."
-- Gardenhire on Delmon Young, who appeared to have a chance to rob Lillibridge's home run in the ninth.
• "Everything went good" for first baseman Justin Morneau after his first Triple-A rehab game on Thursday night, according to Gardenhire, and he went 1-for-4 with a single on Saturday. "It's going to be a process. First time out, but he stepped right in and put the bat on the ball, so we'll go from there. He feels good, feels good today, so he'll run back out there."
• INF Alexi Casilla (pulled hamstring) did some light jogging prior to batting practice Saturday, and he should be in line to come off the DL when eligible on August 12, per Gardenhire. "If I could get him activated before, I would do that," the manager said.
The Twins look to avoid a sweep on Sunday (1:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN) when left-hander Brian Duensing (8-9, 4.50) takes on right-hander Jake Peavy (4-5, 5.13).
Duensing has battled through an inconsistent, up-and-down season, and his last few starts reflect that. He allowed four earned runs and issued four walks in only five innings on June 28 against the Dodgers, then followed up with a nine-inning shutout against the Rays. After two more solid starts, Duensing allowed seven earned runs in only 4 2/3 innings against Detroit, then came back and shut the Rangers down in 6 2/3 innings, giving up only one run. Duensing then fell back off the wagon against the Angels last week, allowing five earned runs in six innings.
The Twins touched Peavy up for five earned runs on 10 hits and two walks in just 4 1/3 innings on July 10 in Chicago. The right-hander has allowed at least three earned runs in each of his last nine starts -- a stretch that spans back to May 30.
• Monday: vs. Red Sox, 6:10 p.m. RHP Scott Baker (8-6, 3.01) vs. LHP Andrew Miller (4-1, 5.44).
• Tuesday: vs. Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano (7-9, 5.03) vs. RHP Tim Wakefield (6-4, 4.99).
• Wednesday: vs. Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (7-9, 4.58) vs. LHP Jon Lester (11-5, 3.23).