The Minnesota Twins continued their dominance of the White Sox over the weekend, taking two of three from the South Siders in a series at the Cell. Minnesota has won seven of the last nine games against the Sox, due primarily to their simple yet effective combination of well-executed small-ball offense and effective start-to-finish pitching.
Game 1 started out great for Chicago, with the Sox taking the lead in the first on a two-run homer from Paul Konerko. However, the Twins rallied from 3-0 in the sixth when Nick Punto hit a solo dinger and Torii Hunter added a three-run round-tripper. The Twinkies added another run in the ninth to edge out the Sox 5-4.
The game ended on a Bartman-esque note when Twins first baseman Justin Morneau tried to catch a Jermaine Dye pop foul with the tying run on second. Some jackass fan reached out on to the field of play and swatted his glove. Umpire Andy Fletcher called interference, and the result was the third and final out. According to reliable sources, that fan is now part of the concrete foundation of a new condo development in Bridgeport.
Dye was involved in a key play in the second game as well. With the Sox down 7-5 in the bottom of the ninth, he hit a two-run homer off of usually brilliant closer Joe Nathan. The shot sent cheers up from the trailer parks of Calumet City all the way to Greek Fest on Halsted in the West Loop.
But Sox fans would be disappointed yet again. Pinch-hitter Lew Ford got on base with a single in the 11th, then Punto drove him in to give Minnesota an 8-7 victory and a 1.5 game lead in the wild card race.
Sunday had sweep written all over it. Slugger Jim Thome wasn’t coming back, and the Sox desperately needed his offensive output against a team that had edged them out by a single run in the previous game. Plus, slumping pitcher Mark Buerhle was starting.
Yet the Sox came out roaring. A.J. Pierzynski, Joe Crede and Juan Uribe accounted for more than half of Chicago’s offense with their homers in the team’s 6-1 victory. But the story of the game was Buerhle, who gave up just one earned run and did not walk a batter in what may have been his best performance all year, and certainly his most important.
No one was more disappointed by the Twins’ failure to get the sweep then Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, who’s made no secret of his admiration of their style of play.
“Oh gosh, I just love to watch those guys do their thing,” he gushed effusively to reporters after Sunday’s game. “I get chills every time one of their guys gets on first, because I just know he’s gonna score through some exciting combination of bunts, singles and sacrifice flies.”
“I was kind of flattered at first,” Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer said of Ozzie’s appreciation. “But then it got kind of creepy. Like a few weeks ago, I got a text message from him saying, ‘I think U R gr8. Do U want 2 hang out some time?’ That was a little too much for me, frankly.”
Number of the Weekend: 3
Sox-Twins games left in the regular season. The final showdown is the last series of the season.