MINNEAPOLIS — Welcome to the week where nothing goes right.
Whether out of their control or of their own making, the White Sox haven’t been able to get on track despite all their offseason additions.
The offense didn’t do enough damage in key spots on Saturday afternoon and the Minnesota Twins did as they downed Hector Noesi and the White Sox, 5-3, in front of 30,551 at Target Field. After trailing by two early, Minnesota rallied to grab the lead by the fifth and handed it over to the bullpen, which shut down the White Sox, losers of four straight.
Whereas six days ago the White Sox were on the verge of .500, two cancellations and a second four-game losing streak of the young season later, the fans’ groans about manager Robin Ventura and his 8-13 club have begun to grow louder.
“We have to keep some balls in the yard,” Ventura said. “We need something to fall through when we get a lot of guys on. We had some opportunities that we are not cashing in on. Eventually it’s going to happen.”
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They need something to go right on a road trip that has included a riot, cancellations, an odd blowout loss at Camden Yards and three deflating losses to the Twins.
What began as a promising Saturday turned quickly against Noesi, who at times looked like he hasn’t pitched since April 21.
The White Sox scored three runs in the first three innings against Twins starter Ricky Nolasco. Micah Johnson and J.B. Shuck each had RBIs, as did Avisail Garcia in the third to grab a 3-1 lead.
But Noesi gave up a solo homer to Trevor Plouffe in the bottom of the second and a two-out, two-run homer to Torii Hunter in the third as a leadoff walk of Jordan Schafer proved costly. The Twins scored two more times in the fifth against the combination of Noesi and Carlos Rodon, who came on in relief with runners on the corners and one out. It’s the second time Rodon has taken over for Noesi in a tight spot. In both, Noesi’s inherited runners scored.
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Rodon threw a nasty 2-2 slider to Joe Mauer, who didn’t chase the next two offerings to walk and load the bases. Plouffe then singled to left to drive in one run, and Kurt Suzuki made it 5-3 with a sacrifice fly.
“It’s a little more comfortable,” Rodon said. “I had a plan. I was trying to get Mauer out and he took a good slider for a walk. I didn’t really want to give in, but I’m also trying to make a good pitch. ... Good at-bat for him.
“I felt good coming in, I just wish I would have got one of those guys out and kept it 3-3.”
Rodon pitched three scoreless innings to keep the White Sox within two runs, but it didn’t matter as Nolasco and five relievers shut the offense down.
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A group that hitting coach Todd Steverson said Sunday has been average to a tick below started well against Nolasco. The White Sox had at least two men on in each of the first three innings and scored three times as Johnson had an RBI groundout in the second inning and Shuck’s two-out single drove in another to make it 2-0. Garcia, who flew out to deep right with two on in the first and to deep right-center field with two on in the eighth, singled in a run in the third to make it 3-1.
But several aggressive plays turned outs on the base paths and an Adam LaRoche double play in the middle slowed their momentum. So did reliever Aaron Thompson, who delivered 2 1/3 scoreless innings.
The White Sox had 12 men reach base but didn’t score again after Garcia’s RBI single in the third.
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“You have to hit the ball in the right spot,” Garcia said. “The Twins are playing well, and everything they hit is a base hit. We’re hitting the ball at people, and we can’t do anything about it, so hopefully everything gets better tomorrow.”
It can’t be much worse than it has this week.
The White Sox moved to 8-9 last Sunday with a pair of victories over the Kansas City Royals. Since then, they faced cancellations on Monday and Tuesday and were outscored 20-4 combined on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, two Twins pitchers combined for a six-hit shutout in a 1-0 decision. Saturday, the White Sox couldn’t make the big pitch or get the timely hit.
“That’s the way it’s going right now,” Ventura said.