MINNEAPOLIS -- They’re 20 games in and what is expected to be a formidable offense still hasn’t surfaced for the White Sox.
Kyle Gibson did plenty and his defense did the rest as the Minnesota Twins scored on a Jose Quintana wild pitch and beat the White Sox 1-0 on Friday night in front of 22,794 at Target Field.
Gibson and Glen Perkins combined on a six-hitter as the White Sox lost their third straight and scored three runs or fewer for the 12th time in 20 games (they’re 1-11 in those contests). Quintana took the loss despite limiting the Twins to a run in seven innings.
“It’s frustrating for all of us,” said designated hitter Adam LaRoche, who went 2-for-4. “We’ve run into some pitchers last few days that aren’t overpowering, but seem to be really hitting their spots and making pitches when they need them. Tonight, (Gibson) had that downhill plane, kept the ball down and had some run on it.”
Quintana (1-2) deserved much better.
It appeared like he might earn the 42nd no decision of his career when the White Sox got the go-ahead run into scoring position in the ninth inning.
With two outs, pinch-hitter Gordon Beckham singled to left field, allowing Avisail Garcia to race to third. On the play, left fielder Eduardo Escobar bobbled the ball and Beckham reached second.
But Perkins blew two mid-90s fastball past Tyler Flowers for swinging strikes and then got the catcher looking at another for strike three.
They also had the bases loaded in the second inning, but Flowers grounded into an inning-ending double play when Gibson broke his bat. The Sox also had two on in the seventh inning but Flowers hit into a fielder’s choice and J.B. Shuck popped out to third.
To add injury to insult, the Twins took away several more hits in the fifth inning. Torii Hunter robbed Conor Gillaspie of at least a double with a leaping grab at the wall in right-center field and Joe Mauer had a diving stop for a fielder’s choice on J.B. Shuck’s grounder.
“They’re just not very opportunistic tonight,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Guys had some pretty good at-bats. We swung it OK. They made some good plays on us, but we hit the ball hard. You just continue to go, continue to grind. Eventually that turns.”
Quintana’s luck has to, right?
He wiggled out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth inning and nearly got out of one in the fifth inning only to throw a wild pitch with two outs to allow Kennys Vargas to score the game’s only run.
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Quintana faced the minimum in four of seven innings and struck out five. He walked two.
But it wasn’t enough.
“I see the lineup,” Quintana said. “The guys feel bad when they try for you in the game. Two runs or something in these 1-0 games, that’s crazy. But it’s a crazy game and try your best and hope for the next one.”
The White Sox have to hope this offense, one with a team .238/.288/.345 slash line, wakes up quickly.
They expect it will, as Alexei Ramirez and LaRoche are notoriously slow starters. They figure Adam Eaton -- who missed Friday’s game with flu-like symptoms -- can’t carry a .241 on-base percentage forever. But a team that spent $67 million on Melky Cabrera and LaRoche to bolster the offense has produced 64 runs and been shut out twice, both times by Minnesota.
“We’re going through one of those stretches where we are just not getting it going across the board,” LaRoche said. “So, it will turn. It just sucks going through it.”