Power surge by Twins fuels win over White Sox
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins flexed some muscle for their first three-game sweep of the season. The Chicago White Sox were easily overpowered in this lopsided series.
Brian Dozier’s two-run homer was one of a career-high four long balls hit off John Danks, and the Twins beat the White Sox 8-4 on Thursday.
“It always helps a lot when you’ve got everybody hitting in the lineup,” said Dozier, who homered for the third time in his last four games. “Hopefully that won’t let up, and we can continue the hot bats and the pitching and defense.”
Oswaldo Arcia went deep in the second inning ahead of Dozier. Clete Thomas and Eduardo Escobar hit back-to-back shots in the fourth, sending the White Sox to their seventh defeat in the last eight games. They fell to a league-worst 13-28 on the road and 5-13 in June.
“The game is hard enough when you’re not playing well,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “When you’re not playing well, you can see all the warts.”
Danks (1-4) lasted only five innings, giving up 12 hits and six runs. Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn hit consecutive home runs against Scott Diamond (5-6) in the sixth inning, but that wasn’t nearly enough.
The six combined homers on this humid, breezy afternoon matched a record at Target Field, which opened in 2010. The Twins last swept the White Sox in a three-game series Sept. 14-16, 2010, in Chicago. They’d never done it here before.
“You’re only as good as your last game, but there’s a confidence level,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
The White Sox dropped to 29-41, the first time they’ve been 12 games under .500 since the last day of the 2007 season, when they finished 72-90. That was the only year in the history of the AL Central, which was created in 1994, the White Sox have finished in fourth place. They’ve never finished last in the Central, but they’re well on their way this summer, with starting pitching joining this week the list of problems topped by fielding and scoring.
“We truly feel like we’re way too good to be playing like this,” Danks said. “We feel we’re just as talented as any team in the league.”
The signs of struggle were everywhere. Alejandro De Aza’s drag bunt attempt in the fifth inning sailed about 20 feet in the air all the way to Dozier for an easy catch at second base. Then in the sixth, shortstop Alexei Ramirez let a soft two-out grounder get through his legs for an error. Two batters later, Justin Morneau’s two-run single with the bases loaded stretched the lead to 8-4.
Danks, whose season started late because of surgery last summer on his left shoulder, fell to 0-4 in his four road starts with a 7.29 ERA. Nine of the 10 home runs he’s allowed have been on the road.
“Home runs are exciting, but as long as we’re putting them on the board you’ve got to be happy,” Diamond said.
Quipped Gardenhire: “As long as they’re ours being hit into the seats, that’s OK.”
Diamond won for only the second time in his last eight starts, with only one completion of six innings in that span. This turn, he lasted 5 1-3 innings with seven hits and four runs allowed. One of those was unearned, due to a throwing error by third baseman Trevor Plouffe in the fourth.
Reliever Jesse Crain has been one bright spot for the White Sox, at least.
The former Twins right-hander set Chicago’s franchise record with his 28th consecutive scoreless appearance, passing J.J. Putz’s mark from 2010. Crain, who has 37 strikeouts in 28 innings during the streak, has allowed only two runs all season, most recently on April 12.
Notes: The six victories (out of nine) were the most on a homestand by the Twins since winning six of 12 here on from July 14-24, 2011. ... Ventura expressed encouragement about RHP Jake Peavy’s first real exercise — riding the stationary bike — since he broke a rib two weeks. Peavy is expected to miss another two to four weeks. ... Twins CF Aaron Hicks (strained left hamstring) is on track to begin a rehab assignment next week. Backup OF Wilkin Ramirez (post-concussion symptoms) started one on Thursday with Class A Fort Myers. ... The Twins play three games at Cleveland beginning on Friday. RHP Samuel Deduno (3-1, 3.26 ERA) will pitch the opener, with LHP Scott Kazmir (3-4, 5.89 ERA) starting for the Indians. ... The White Sox start a three-game series in Kansas City on Friday by sending LHP Hector Santiago (2-5, 3.30 ERA) to the mound at Kauffman Stadium. RHP Jeremy Guthrie (7-4, 3.72 ERA) will pitch for the Royals.