The Chicago White Sox began a seven-game road trip with a three-game series versus the Minnesota Twins. The first two games of the series featured arguably the worst lost and best win of the season for the Sox. After dropping the opener by a score of 10-3, the Sox came back to overcome miscues and missed calls to win the second game 4-2. The split set up the rubber match on Wednesday, and the Sox were able to win the series with a 9-4 victory.
Here’s how the seven-game road trip started in Minnesota:
Monday, May 13th – Twins 10, White Sox 3
The White Sox offense got off to a good start by scoring two runs in the top of the first inning, but they would not do much for the rest of the game. Alex Rios doubled home Alejandro De Aza to score the first run of the game, and Dayan Viciedo hit a sacrifice fly to deep center to plate the other run of the inning. Rios would add another RBI on a groundout in the sixth inning that scored De Aza again. De Aza went 3-for-5 on the night with the two runs scored, raising his batting average to .257 on the year. Alexei Ramirez went 3-for-4 with a run scored, and he seems to like hitting second in the lineup with his recent surge. Ramirez is not your prototypical two-hole hitter because he doesn’t walk much, but he is currently the best option while he is swinging a hot bat.
Hector Santiago made his third start of the season, and he actually pitched much better than his line would indicate. Santiago went 5.2 innings, giving up six runs (three earned), eight hits, one walk, and six strikeouts. Santiago was unable to pitch over a costly fielding error by Alexei Ramirez that resulted in three unearned runs to score in the bottom of the third inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Ramirez fielded a ground ball up the middle and attempted to flip the ball with his glove to Tyler Greene to start a double play. Instead, Ramirez was charged with an error for botching the flip and setting the Twins up for a big inning. With the Sox already in a 6-3 hole, the offense was unable to bail Santiago out who suffered his second loss of the season. Santiago’s ERA now stands at 2.23 to go along with a 1.08 WHIP. Although it wasn’t Santiago’s best effort, he did throw the ball well enough to keep himself in the mix to remain in the starting rotation when John Danks returns.
Tuesday, May 14th – White Sox 4, Twins 2
The White Sox offense only scored four runs on Tuesday, but for some reason it seemed to be one of their more productive nights of the season. The Sox cranked out 12 hits, giving them 10-plus hits in consecutive games for the first time all season. Back-to-back home runs by Adam Dunn (his 7th) and Dayan Viciedo (3rd) to lead off the top of the second inning gave the Sox an early 2-0 lead. After the Twins came back to tie the game at 2-2, the Sox got two big hits in the top of the eighth inning. With Dewayne Wise leading the inning off with a double, Tyler Flowers drove him in with a double of his own. After Alejandro De Aza moved Flowers over to third base, Alexei Ramirez knocked Flowers in with a RBI-single. The run-scoring hits came with runners in scoring position, an area in which the Sox have struggled with early on this season. It was nice to see the Sox score a couple runs in an inning without relying on a home run, and hopefully there will be more of that to come.
Jake Peavy got the ball on Tuesday, and he delivered another great effort. Peavy went seven strong innings, giving up two runs on just five hits. He struck out six and walked none. The quality start for Peavy was his fifth consecutive such start, and he now has six quality starts in seven outings. Peavy’s performance lowered his ERA to 2.96 and his WHIP to 1.01. Those numbers are elite for a starting pitcher in the American League, and his strikeout to walk ratio of 51:8 suggest that his success is here to stay.
With the Sox in position to win, Jesse Crain and Addison Reed were asked to protect a 4-2 lead. Crain pitched a perfect eighth inning, recording one strikeout. Crain has now pitched 13.1 consecutive scoreless innings over his last 14 appearances. Addison Reed pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up his 12th save of the season. This is how manager Robin Ventura would love to draw it up. The back-end of the Sox bullpen is very strong, and something that they should continue to rely heavily on.
Wednesday, May 15th – White Sox 9, Twins 4
Maybe the White Sox offense is ready to breakout? That still remains to be seen, but the Sox wrapped up the series in Minnesota with another 10-plus hit effort by getting 14 hits. After the first 36 games of the season, the Sox had failed to record 10-plus hits in back-to-back games all season, but now have done so three games in a row. Hopefully this is something that will continue, but let’s just enjoy it for now. The offensive outburst was led by Adam Dunn and Jeff Keppinger. Wait, what? Yes, the two hitters who combined hit .137 and .177 respectively coming into Wednesday’s finale, combined to go 5-for-9 with seven RBI. Dunn provided the bulk of the damage with two home runs (his 8th and 9th) and a RBI-double., while Keppinger drove his two runs in on a double in the seventh inning to give the Sox a much needed 7-4 cushion. There were plenty of other contributors, but Dayan Viciedo’s and Alex Rios’ performances stood out the most. Viciedo went 2-for-4 with a solo homer (his 4th) and a sacrifice fly, while Rios went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and a stolen base.
Dylan Axelrod was asked to win the series, and he did just enough to pick up his first victory of the season. Axelrod battled through his 5.1 innings of work, giving up just three runs on nine hits. Axelrod struck out four batters and issued just one walk on the afternoon. It wasn’t his best game of the season, but the Sox offense provided enough support for “Axe” to get the win. It was nice to see Axelrod rewarded with the victory despite not having his best stuff because he should have at least three or four wins with the way he has pitched. Despite the win, Axelrod’s spot in the rotation may be in jeopardy if manager Robin Ventura opts to go with Hector Santiago when John Danks returns. Either way, Axelrod has done his part to remain in the rotation. Although his ERA and WHIP are pretty average at 4.27 and 1.32, those numbers are slightly inflated due to two poor starts. In all, Axelrod has pitched well in six of his eight starts, and he has been one of the few pleasant surprises to the season.
Record: 17-21, Last place in AL Central (5.0 games back)
Up Next: The White Sox stay on the road for a four-game set versus the Los Angeles Angels (15-24) starting Thursday night.
Thursday, May 16th at 9:05pm CT: Jose Quintana (2-1, 3.72 ERA) vs. Jerome Williams (2-1, 3.06 ERA)
Friday, May 17th at 9:05pm CT: Chris Sale (4-2, 2.88 ERA) vs. C.J. Wilson (3-2, 3.88 ERA)
Saturday, May 18th at 3:05pm CT: Hector Santiago (1-2, 2.23 ERA) vs. Joe Blanton (0-7, 6.46 ERA)
Sunday, May 19th at 2:35pm CT: Jake Peavy (5-1, 2.96 ERA) vs. Jason Vargas (2-3, 4.03 ERA)
Prediction: The Sox may be hitting their stride, so it will be interesting to see how this series goes. The Angels rotation isn’t all that impressive, and with the Sox sending currently their best four starters to the mound the matchups look promising. If the Sox offensive remains hot, then this could be a very winnable series. The Sox just lost a series to these same Angels at home, so I don’t know why I’m doing this but…Sox win three of four.
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