MINNEAPOLIS — In the first seven-plus innings, hits were not hard to come by for the White Sox on Wednesday against the Twins. But when they needed one most in the eighth, the White Sox could not even get the ball out of the infield.
Trailing by two with no outs, the White Sox had the tying run at second base with the heart of their order coming to the plate. Held hitless the rest of the game, the White Sox lost, 5-4, to the Twins at Target Field.
“I think we played typical White Sox baseball,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “I don’t think we lost, I think we just gave this game away. There’s no doubt in my mind we just gave it away.”
Despite collecting 12 hits on the night, the White Sox went 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position and left 13 men on base.
One of those hits came in the eighth, when Alexei Ramirez delivered a timely double, giving the White Sox a pair of runners in scoring position. But lefty Glen Perkins got Paul Konerko to pop out to first, A.J. Pierzynski grounded out to second and Alex Rios struck out looking to end the threat.
After watching strike three, Rios snapped his bat in half over his knee before throwing it to the ground along with his helmet.
“It was huge. That was the heart of their lineup,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “When we brought [Alex Burnett] in, we told him that we had a base open and he needed to make pitches. I thought he did a heck of a job getting the tapper back to the mound. It was all about making pitches after that and [Jose] Mijares did a great job with one pitch to A.J.”
The White Sox also were unable to come through in a similar situation in the sixth inning. After an RBI double by Juan Pierre — his 1,999th hit — they had a pair of runners in scoring position, but Ramirez grounded out for the second out of the inning.
After Konerko was intentionally walked, Pierzynski grounded into a forceout to end the inning.
“We had a lot of chances, [but] we couldn’t get the hits,” Guillen said. “I’m not going to talk about big hits, we can’t even get a hit.”
Along with the offense struggling in big situations, lefty John Danks was unable to keep the streak of strong White Sox starting pitching performances going.
After the White Sox had allowed just one run in the first three games of the series, including back-to-back shutouts, Danks gave up five runs (four earned) on six hits over six innings. The unearned run came after Danks’ appeared to pick off Luke Hughes, but Konerko’s throw to second sailed into left field and allowed Hughes to score the Twins’ fifth run.
Danks also walked two with four strikeouts and a hit batter. It was Danks’ second straight rough outing this month after three straight strong starts to end August, including a three-hit shutout at Seattle.
The loss marked Danks’ 11th of the season.
“I don’t know how many starts I have left, and I’ll be ready to throw in those games, but all in all, it’s been a crappy year,” Danks said.
“I’m looking forward to next year, starting clean. I don’t want to sound like I’m giving up on the year, I’m not. But definitely looking forward to a clean slate. I’m not feeling sorry for myself, I put myself in this position. But it seems like this year especially, anything bad that can happen has.”
A big third inning cost Danks, as the Twins plated four two-out runs. After Danks issued a one-out walk to Drew Butera and Ben Revere singled, the lefty got Trevor Plouffe to strike out for the second out.
But an inside pitch grazed the jersey of Joe Mauer, loading the bases for a two-run bloop single by Danny Valencia and Chris Parmelee’s two-run double to center. Parmelee picked up his first two RBIs on his first extra-base hit.
“You obviously don’t want to walk Butera there,” Danks said. “But I made some good pitches to him, too.”
The White Sox answered with a pair of runs in the fifth, as Pierre led off the inning by reaching on a Parmelee error at first base. Pierre later scored on a single by Konerko, who advanced to third on an Pierzynski double and scored on Rios’ sacrifice fly to center.
Twins starter Carl Pavano did not have his best stuff, but picked up the win after he went 5 1/3 innings, giving up three runs — only one of which was earned — on 10 hits. Pavano also walked a batter and had one strikeout.
One highlight on the night for the White Sox was right-hander Dylan Axelrod, who made his Major League debut in relief of Danks, tossing two scoreless frames while giving up just one hit. Axelrod also walked a batter and recorded his first two strikeouts.
Guillen was pleased with what he saw, especially with the way Axelrod threw a lot of strikes.
“It was just great getting out there for the first time,” Axelrod said. “It was fun getting that first strikeout, and that first out. Alexei made a great play on that. … It was just all a lot of highlights for me.”
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
MINNEAPOLIS — As he warmed in the bullpen, Zach Stewart could tell he was going to have a good night. Little did he know he would flirt with history on Monday at Target Field.
Stewart wasn’t perfect against the Twins, but came close as he delivered what was easily the best start of his career.
Stewart blanked the Twins, retiring 27 of 28 batters — perfect until Danny Valencia’s leadoff double in the eighth — as the White Sox swept the doubleheader with the 4-0 victory in the nightcap following a 2-1 win in the afternoon.
“It was a lot of fun. It was just one of those things,” Stewart said. “In the ‘pen, the ball was coming out good. I could tell it was going to be somewhat of a good night. I didn’t know it was going to be that good. But it just felt good from the beginning.”
In just his eighth career start, Stewart came within six outs of tossing what would have been third perfect game in White Sox history, and the first for the club since Mark Buehrle on July 23, 2009. He also would have been the first rookie to pitch a no-hitter since Boston’s Clay Buchholz no-hit the Orioles on Sept. 1, 2007, in his second career start.
Instead, Stewart settled for a one-hitter, the first complete game and shutout of his career. Stewart also had the first shutout by a White Sox rookie since Wilson Alvarez no-hit the Orioles at Baltimore on Aug. 11, 1991.
Stewart struck out a career-high nine while tossing a career-high 114 pitches and allowing only the one baserunner in the 62nd one-hitter in White Sox history and the first since Freddy Garcia on Aug. 23, 2005, also in Minnesota.
“I thought [a perfect game] was possible the way he was throwing the ball,” said White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers. “All day he had good sink. He was able to locate his offspeed pretty well. Just one pitch away, I guess.”
That one pitch was a sinker away to Twins third baseman Valencia, who sliced it to right field for a double leading off the eighth inning.
“It was tough because I fell behind real quick,” Valencia said. “But I knew eventually he’d try to backdoor me with a heater on the outside corner, and he made a pretty good pitch, but I was able to get the barrel out there.”
Stewart said he had to tip his cap to Valencia, who made a good swing on a good pitch.
After he surrendered the perfect game, Stewart was almost more impressive over the final two innings. He retired the final six Twins he faced, getting a groundout, popout, three straight strikeouts and a groundout to end the game.
Said Stewart of his performance after the double: “Yeah, I’ve given up hits before, so I guess you just get used to it.”
Chicago scored first with a run in the second on three singles, and added another in the fifth with a Brent Lillibridge double and Alexei Ramirez single. The White Sox also scored two more in the seventh on three singles and a walk.
The four runs of support likely helped Stewart remain in the game after the eighth. Lefty Chris Sale was warming in the bullpen, and would have come in if Joe Mauer got to the plate, manager Ozzie Guillen said.
Stewart breezed through the first four innings, needing just 40 pitches to retire the first 12 batters he faced. He also got some defensive help from the left side of the infield, as Brent Morel made a pair of nice plays on grounders and Ramirez saved a hit on a liner to short.
Morel made a diving stop at third base and threw to first to retire Trevor Plouffe for the second out in the fourth. With two outs in the sixth, Morel added another tough stop and a strong throw to retire Drew Butera.
After a long flyout to right by Plouffe for the second out in the seventh, Mauer ripped a hard liner toward short that looked like it could get through for the Twins’ first hit. But Ramirez took a couple steps to his right and snagged it to keep the perfect game intact.
It was after that lineout to Ramirez that Stewart really made it seem as though he could finish it off with only two innings to go.
“When Mauer hit that lineout to end the seventh, I was like ‘OK, this looks like it might happen,'” said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who watched Stewart’s performance from the dugout. “Because when balls get hit like that, that’s usually what you look for in perfect games or no-hitters. It didn’t work out, but it was still a good game.”
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
MINNEAPOLIS — In his first full season in the Major Leagues, right-hander Philip Humber has learned that it is just as much a mental grind as a physical one — if not more so — over the course of 162 games.
So while getting hit just above his right eye with a line drive and missing two weeks as a result was far from ideal, the time off may turn out to be just what Humber needed to get back to the way he pitched in the first half of the season.
In his first start since Aug. 18, Humber delivered his best outing of the second half as the White Sox picked up a 2-1 victory over the Twins in the first game of a split doubleheader on Monday.
“It feels like it’s been a year since I had a win,” Humber said. “The guys did a great job getting those runs early, and I just kind of got a lot of ground balls. It was a great feeling to have some success.”
With the win, the White Sox snapped a four-game losing streak and remained 8 1/2 games back of the first-place Tigers in the American League Central. Chicago has won four in a row at Target Field, its first four-game streak in Minnesota since May 23-July 1, 2004.
Humber tossed seven scoreless innings, giving up just six hits as he struck out six and did not walk a batter. While he allowed all of his baserunners over his last five frames, Humber allowed more than one batter to reach base just twice — in the third and seventh innings.
He did not have a good feel for his curveball, so Humber and White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski focused more on the slider, giving the Twins a different look than expected.
“He’s developed a really good slider. He didn’t have that pitch when he was with us,” said Luke Hughes, who played with Humber in the Twins’ system. “So he’s kind of stepped it up a little for sure. We talked about it at lunch today. That pitch has made him successful, and he’s had a great year.”
It was Humber’s first scoreless outing of seven innings or more, and his first win, since July 2 at Wrigley Field, when he held the Cubs without a run on just five hits over seven frames. Humber has gone seven or more scoreless innings three times this season, with the other instance being April 25 at Yankee Stadium.
Humber had his last start cut short after 1 1/3 innings when he was struck just above his right eye with a line drive off the bat of Kosuke Fukudome. In his previous six starts, Humber had gone 0-4 with a 7.16 ERA, giving up 22 earned runs in 27 2/3 innings.
In his first start since coming off the disabled list, Humber looked more like the pitcher that went 8-4 with a 2.57 ERA in 15 starts before the All-Star break.
“He seemed like he got it back,” said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. “All the time off and things, it seemed like he was stronger again.”
Humber will now look to build on this strong start over the final month of the season.
“I hope so, it’s a lot more fun getting them out than it is struggling to hold them,” Humber said. “Hopefully, just build off that and use that confidence into my next couple of starts.”
After being retired in order by Twins right-hander Anthony Swarzak in the first inning, the White Sox scored one run each in the second and third. Pierzynski led off with a double in the second and scored on Alejandro De Aza’s fielder’s choice.
In the third, Juan Pierre singled with one out, and Alexei Ramirez drove him in with a double down the left-field line.
Swarzak allowed just two runs on seven hits over eight innings of work, but he took the loss as the Twins could not provide any run support. Eight innings matched a career high for Swarzak, who struck out four batters without a walk.
Things got interesting in the ninth, when Sergio Santos came in after Matt Thornton got the first out of the inning, but Santos struggled and was removed in favor of Chris Sale. Santos allowed a walk, single and sacrifice fly, cutting the lead to one run, but Sale got the strikeout to end the ballgame.
Santos struggled for the second straight outing, but Guillen said he would stick with the right-hander in the closer’s role.
“It was more a gut feeling than anything. I wanted the matchup with Repko [against Sale],” Guillen said. “The last thing we wanted to do was lose a game like that.
“If we’ve got the same opportunity for Santos [in Game 2], he’s going to be back on the mound.”
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
It was not until then that he realized it was a definite possibility. But when the trade did happen, Hardy still was not happy about it.
“When I left here, I was mad. I enjoyed my time here, I made a lot of friends,” Hardy said before Monday’s opener against the Twins at Target Field. “It felt like a slap in the face a little bit to me at the time. I miss all these guys, still, but I definitely love it in Baltimore.”
The trade has worked out much better so far for Hardy and the Orioles than it has for the Twins. The shortstop is enjoying a bounce-back season, hitting .268 with 23 home runs and 59 RBIs in 94 games after just six homers and 38 RBIs over 101 games in his one injury-shortened season with Minnesota.
Hardy signed a three-year extension with the Orioles last month, ensuring he’ll remain in Baltimore for the near future.
The biggest difference in his success, Hardy said, has been health. While he did miss a month with an oblique strain, Hardy has not had to deal with the wrist issues that plagued him throughout the 2010 season.
“My wrist really bothered me, and it affected the way I swung the bat,” Hardy said. “This year, being healthy, it’s allowed me to do what I feel like I’m capable of.
“The wrist, it’s a big part of the swing.”
Questions about his ability to stay healthy played a role in the Twins’ decision to trade Hardy to the Orioles in the offseason.
But with Hardy being healthy for the most part this year, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he was not surprised by Hardy’s production.
“He’s had it in the past. Last year he was just beat up with us with numerous different injuries,” Gardenhire said. “He’s put up pretty good numbers in the past and that’s why we signed him. But last year, injuries beat him up with us.”
This week marks the first “homecoming” type series for Hardy, who did not make the trip with the Twins to Milwaukee — where he spent his first five big league seasons — last year because he was on the disabled list at the time.
Hardy said he’s been following what the Twins have been doing, and the performances of his closer friends on the team in particular. He also said he was happy to be back at Target Field and see so many familiar faces.
“I think it’d be a little different in Milwaukee, but we’ll see tonight how it is,” said Hardy, who was not sure what to expect from Twins fans.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he had no concerns about Hardy trying a little too hard to perform well against his former team and in front of Twins fans.
“J.J.’s not that vindictive. J.J. is as good a human being as you’ll find,” Showalter said. “But he’s competitive. … It’s not something that’s a topic of conversation with him, in the advanced meeting there was none of that. In fact, he was real positive on their organization and their players.”
MINNEAPOLIS — CC Sabathia had no idea if it was fair or foul. Joe Girardi thought it looked foul from his vantage point. But Mark Teixeira was not surprised it was initially called fair.
For the second straight night, the Yankees had an opponent’s home run reviewed, and this time, the call went in their favor as it was ruled to be just a long foul ball for Justin Morneau. Taking two runs off the board in the first inning, it was a big call that helped the Yankees on their way to an 8-4 victory Thursday night at Target Field.
“Oh, a huge break,” Teixeira said of the call. “Two runs in the first inning against a good pitcher, that could’ve given them some momentum. And I’m always a big believer that if you give CC a lead, he’s going to hold it. Because of that, we were able to get him a lead in the next couple innings, and he held it.”
As he picked up his 17th victory of the season, Sabathia helped the Yankees maintain their half-game lead over the Red Sox in the American League East.
Teixeira did note, though, that when a ball is hit as high as Morneau’s was, it really is difficult to tell whether it is a home run. He said that he hits a few like that every year that go over the foul pole, and always land foul.
“The more you look at it, the more you think it’s foul, but it could’ve easily been fair,” Teixeira said. “Who knows, but unless they have some sort of special replay where you can extend the foul pool, it’s really just a guess. I wasn’t surprised that they called it fair, because it’s really just a guess.”
Morneau also thought it went over the foul pole. But not only did he not get a two-run home run on the play, Sabathia came back to strike him out to end the inning.
After falling behind in the count 1-0, the overturned home run made it 1-1, and Sabathia got Morneau to swing and miss three pitches later for the strikeout.
“I thought he threw him some really good sliders there,” Girardi said. “As a hitter, it’s frustrating because you think you got a home run and then the next thing you know, you’re sitting down.”
The Yankees took their first lead of the game in the next inning. And though they gave it back in the bottom half, Teixeira put the Yankees on top for good in the third.
After center fielder Curtis Granderson led off with a triple, Texeira followed by driving a 2-0 changeup from Brian Duensing into the second deck in left field, his 33rd home run of the season.
Teixeira then led off the fifth with a double, setting up the Yankees’ fourth set of back-to-back home runs on the season, and the first since Nick Swisher and Jorge Posada did it on June 26 against the Rockies.
Swisher hit the first one, a two-run shot that just cleared the fence in left field for his 15th of the year. Andruw Jones followed with his eighth of the season, a no-doubter into the third deck at Target Field.
“Dude, I can’t even hit a 3-wood like that,” Swisher said of Jones’ towering home run, which was estimated at 434 feet.
“I really didn’t see where it landed,” Jones said. “When I hit it, I knew I hit a homer, so I dropped my head down and just kept running the bases.”
Duensing lasted just five innings, giving up six runs on 10 hits with a walk and a strikeout.
“They have very good pitch selection. They’re very aware of the zone,” Duensing said. “Tonight, I was behind in the count a lot, and up in the zone a lot. When you’re behind and up at the same time, it takes away the advantage from the pitcher and gives them the advantage.”
Three long balls from the middle of the Yankees’ order gave Sabathia plenty of support, and though he struggled a bit, the left-hander pitched well enough to win.
Sabathia was hit hard in his first time through the lineup, but settled in and retired the next nine in a row and 13 of 16. The Yankees’ ace went seven innings against the Twins, allowing four runs — three earned — on 10 hits with nine strikeouts and one walk.
The Twins made things interesting with a pair of runs in the seventh, but Sabathia retired Joe Mauer, Morneau and Jim Thome in order to get out of the jam, stranding a pair of runners.
“I thought in the middle of the game I felt good,” Sabathia said. “I was making pitches, I was [throwing] downhill. It just kind of got away from me there in the last inning.”
MINNEAPOLIS — Given their recent struggles against the Twins, a trip to Target Field didn’t exactly seem like the best solution for the White Sox and their six-game losing streak.
But when they left the Twin Cities on Sunday, the White Sox had completed their first three-game sweep of the Twins in more than five years with a 7-0 victory.
“After that last stretch, we could’ve come in here with our heads hung low and we could’ve mailed it in against a team that really has had our number,” said right-hander Jake Peavy, who was nearly unhittable against the Twins.
“We came in here, we played hard and watched the chips fall where they may, and we came out with three wins. We feel fortunate, but we know we’ve got to make a hard, hard push, and three games isn’t enough if we’re going to make a race out of this.”
Backed by four home runs and a three-run fourth, Peavy delivered his best start since May, while picking up his first win since June.
Allowing just three hits with six strikeouts and no walks, Peavy tossed eight scoreless innings. It was just the second time this season Peavy has gone eight or more innings, with the other being a three-hit shutout against the Indians in his second start of the season on May 18.
“Peavy threw the ball well,” said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. “The thing about him today, he was throwing more strikes, he was around the plate more, and I think that’s the reason he had that type of game.”
The Twins sent no more than four batters to the plate in an inning against Peavy, who retired the side in order in the second, fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings.
It was Peavy’s first scoreless outing and his first win since tossing four shutout innings in relief on June 25 against the Nationals. Peavy also won for the first time as a starter since June 22 against the Cubs.
“He was just mixing up all his pitches and making you chase,” said Twins right fielder Jason Kubel. “He’d also get you looking at some good pitches, too. So he was using his sinker, his cutter, his curveball and changeup effectively. I mean, everything was effective, so it was a pretty good job from him today.”
After giving up a double in the first to Joe Mauer, and back-to-back singles in the third, Peavy retired the last 10 batters he faced and 17 of the last 18.
Peavy allowed more than one baserunner in an inning just once, in the third inning. The only baserunner he allowed after that came in the fifth, when he hit Matt Tolbert in the foot with a curveball.
“Just changed speeds, I threw the ball anywhere from 70 mph to about 90,” Peavy said. “I threw some cutters, threw breaking balls, changeups. I was just aggressive. I just can’t stand putting people on base. My stuff was OK, but it makes all the difference in the world when you get a two-, three-run lead early.”
Making his first career start at first base, Brent Lillibridge put the White Sox on the board with a 401-foot solo blast in the second inning. Paul Konerko followed with a solo shot of his own to lead off the fourth, and Carlos Quentin and Alex Rios each doubled and scored as the White Sox took control of the game.
In the seventh inning, Alexei Ramirez added a two-run blast off reliever Alex Burnett for good measure, and Rios put another in the seats an inning later off lefty Jose Mijares. Everyone in the White Sox lineup had at least one hit in the game, while six different players scored a run.
“We have great players here,” Rios said. “We had a good series, everybody did a good job. That’s what we need to get things rolling.”
Twins lefty Brian Duensing lasted 6 1/3 innings, but gave up five runs (four earned) on nine hits with four strikeouts and a walk.
Coming into the weekend, the White Sox had beaten the Twins just once all season, while losing 10 of their last 11 against their division rivals. The sweep of the Twins was the first for the White Sox in a three-game series since April 21-23, 2006, and it’s the first for Chicago in Minnesota since June 29-July 1, 2004.
“Finally, we played better against them,” Guillen said. “Every time we come to town, every time we face these guys, they give us a very tough time. It’s just fun to see those guys play the way they did, especially against this ballclub.”
MINNEAPOLIS — As he made his White Sox debut, right-hander Zach Stewart was told by White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen to have some fun, throw strikes and give the team a chance to win.
Stewart did just that, delivering a solid start and picking up his first Major League victory as the White Sox won their second straight, 6-1, over the Twins at Target Field on Saturday.
The 24-year-old right-hander pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing just one run on eight hits with two strikeouts and a walk. Stewart tossed 79 pitches, 55 of which were strikes.
“That’s pretty much my usual game plan, just go out and try to throw a lot of strikes and attack the zone,” Stewart said. “And, you know, get ’em out.
“I like to go out and try to make them put the bat on the ball and hit ground balls and just save my pitch count to where I can throw later into games.”
Through four innings, Stewart had allowed just two singles and a walk before the Twins started to figure him out a bit. He got into trouble in both the fifth and sixth innings, but escaped with just one run allowed.
“Their guy did a good job of keeping us off balance,” said Twins starter Carl Pavano, who allowed two runs (one earned) on nine hits over eight innings. “It seemed like he had pretty good stuff, too. He had a good fastball and good secondary stuff, so you have to tip your hat to him as well.”
Stewart credited catcher A.J. Pierzynski for calling a good game behind the plate, noting that he just tried to follow Pierzynski’s lead.
With runners on the corners in the sixth, the White Sox turned an inning-ending double play to help Stewart get out of the jam.
“Once they saw that he was throwing strikes, they started swinging early, and he got some easy, quick outs,” said Pierzynski, who said he had never seen Stewart throw a pitch until in the bullpen just minutes prior to the game. “He made some pitches when he had to, the double play on Delmon Young [in the sixth] was huge.”
In the fifth, the White Sox got on the board with a walk by Brent Morel and a pair of singles by Juan Pierre and Paul Konerko. Morel scored on Konerko’s two-out single, while Pierre stole third base and scored as the throw got away from Twins third baseman Danny Valencia one batter later.
Alejandro De Aza scored from third in the ninth on catcher Drew Butera’s errant throw to second following a Joe Nathan wild pitch.
Konerko then plated another run with a fielder’s choice, and Brent Lillibridge launched a two-run homer off Nathan to put the game out of reach.
Chris Sale relieved Stewart with one on and one out in the seventh, and he retired the first two batters he faced.
After giving up a double and throwing a wild pitch in the eighth, he got two crucial groundouts by Jason Kubel and Jim Thome to keep the Twins from tying the game, and Jason Frasor got the White Sox out of the inning with a strikeout of Valencia looking on three pitches.
“I think everybody knows how tough he is,” Thome said of Sale. “He throws 97 [mph] and throws a slider. The thing he does real well is that his arm speed when he throws the slider is like his heater. It’s not coming out like it’s his heater, but his arm speed is very good.”
Sergio Santos worked a perfect ninth to finish out what Stewart started.
Before the game, Guillen said he would have to wait until after he saw Stewart pitch before he decided what the White Sox would do with the right-hander for the rest of the season.
The only thing that was certain after Saturday’s game was that Stewart will stay with the big league club for a while and has impressed his manager so far.
“I like his attitude and his presence on the mound,” Guillen said. “He’s got a pretty good makeup. Hopefully, he’ll keep it up like that.”
Will Stewart get another opportunity to start?
“The way he threw the ball, he should,” Guillen said.