MINNEAPOLIS -- Tyler Flowers suspects it won’t be long before the White Sox get a stern talking to from manager Robin Ventura.
That wouldn’t come as a surprise given the ugly end to April for the White Sox.
A day after they were routed anonymously in Baltimore, the White Sox were humiliated 12-2 in a very public clunker to the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night at Target Field. Chris Sale was off, the defense behind him may have been worse and the offense missed out on an abundance of opportunities. Sale established career marks for most runs allowed (nine) and fewest innings in a start (three) as the White Sox finished April at 8-11.
“I imagine one’s coming soon,” Flowers said. “They’re not consistent ones, but when situations or games dictate needing one he’s definitely not afraid to let us know what he thinks.”
Ventura could provide a team that added $137 million worth of free agents this offseason with a long list of grievances after Thursday’s clunker.
Sale showed signs he wasn’t himself early when he gave up a first-inning run. A poor defense surfaced in the second inning to allow another to score.
[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]
The two combined for an epic breakdown in the third inning as the Twins turned a tied game into a rout with seven earned runs off Sale.
“You don’t expect the number seven to come up with Chris pitching,” Ventura said. “There was a lot of different things going on. We just have to be sharper.”
Sharp hasn’t been a word used often this month to describe the White Sox.
They showed signs of the team Ventura believes is postseason-worthy last weekend against the Kansas City Royals.
But the White Sox have struggled to play clean often in their first 19 games and none more so than the third.
Joe Mauer doubled just off Eaton’s glove to start the inning and Sale walked Trevor Plouffe. Kurt Suzuki then singled with two strikes to make it 3-2 and Plouffe moved to third on a Flowers passed ball.
Eduardo Escobar then singled past a drawn-in infield and even though both runners would score easily, Eaton wildly threw to the backstop. Without Sale there to back it up, Eaton’s throw ricocheted toward first base, which allowed Escobar to reach third.
Shane Robinson then singled past another drawn-in infield to make it 6-2. Danny Santana’s single then set up a three-run homer by Brian Dozier.
The Twins also scored three times in the eighth inning against Minnesota-native Jake Petricka.
“I just stunk really,” Sale said. “Don’t judge my teammates on what I put them in. I was bad. I gave up nine hits. There’s no defending that. I walked a couple of guys. If there’s anything, it’s me being pretty darn bad out there.”
Sale’s outing -- he gave up nine hits and eight earned runs -- was reminiscent of Jeff Samardzija’s effort on Wednesday. Samardzija allowed eight earned runs, including six in the first inning, as the Baltimore Orioles routed the White Sox 8-2 in Major League Baseball’s first-ever game closed to the public.
The White Sox probably wish nobody could have seen this one, either.
Alexei Ramirez’s two-out error on Santana’s grounder in the second inning gave the Twins, already ahead 1-0, life. Santana started running on Dozier’s blooper to center and Eaton didn’t fire the ball in immediately and Jose Abreu cut it off, allowing the runner to score from first to make it 2-0.
“When you can make plays behind (Sale) it’s going to help him out and I didn’t do that today as an individual at some key points,” Eaton said. “That doesn’t fly in the big leagues. You’ve got to make those plays and get them done.”
“You’ve got to make sure to get throws down and get throws in and catch the ball.”
The White Sox offense also added to the misery as it failed to cash in against Twins starter Trevor May. Cabrera and Abreu tied the game at 2-2 in the third inning with consecutive RBI singles. But Adam LaRoche flew out to left and Avisail Garcia struck out. The White Sox, who finished with 11 hits, also left the bases loaded in the sixth inning, stranding 10 men.
“It just has to be better,” Ventura said. “We have to clean it up. Both sides of the ball have to be good. Offensively, we saw a better thing today, but defensively we weren’t really there.”