On Sunday, it was the bullpen’s turn to rest.
Over much of the first three weeks of the season, the White Sox’ offense has been most guilty of taking ill-timed breaks, followed by the defense.
The Sox’ pitching staff has been rock solid in just about every game, and starter Gavin Floyd deserved a better fate Sunday after allowing 1 run on 3 hits in 6 innings.
But the bullpen — which came in with the lowest ERA (1.63) in the American League — finally faltered and cost the White Sox in a 5-3 loss to the Twins at U.S. Cellular Field.
“We have a really good bullpen,” Floyd said after the Sox fell for the ninth time in 12 games. “Today wasn’t their day, but you just keep on moving on.
“Most of the time they’re going to get guys out. Even Matt Lindstrom, he gave up some weak groundballs that found holes. It is what it is; it’s going to happen. He pitched well.”
With the White Sox clinging to a 2-1 lead, Lindstrom came on in the seventh inning having not allowed an earned run in his first 8 appearances of the season.
Walking Minnesota leadoff hitter Trevor Plouffe was not what Lindstrom had in mind.
“Any time you walk the leadoff guy, you’re asking for trouble,” Lindstrom said. “My ball was running even more than usual today. I even tried to groove one over to (Plouffe), but it kept on riding across the plate. After that, I started pitching and battling a little better.”
Lindstrom struck out Oswaldo Arcia, but Plouffe moved up a base on Tyler Flowers’ passed ball, and an RBI single by Aaron Hicks tied the game at 2-2.
Another soft single by Jamey Carroll chased Lindstrom, and Sox left-hander Donnie Veal came on and walked Joe Mauer on 4 pitches to load the bases.
Jesse Crain relieved Veal, who hasn’t been able to find the strike zone all season, and Josh Willingham drilled the first pitch he saw for a 3-run double, setting up the Twins’ two-game sweep.
“It’s just one of those where every guy has a walk or you give them that opportunity, give them that little life by putting that guy on, and they usually come through,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “The guys are human; it’s going to happen on occasion.
“It’s unfortunate. It’s one of those where you go through a rut and you’re just trying to get out of it. You’ve just got to keep your nose buried in it and stay strong.”
After 3 shaky starts to open the season, Floyd finally found his lethal curveball and had his way with Minnesota.
“There were points I had a good curveball,” Floyd said. “Some points I had a good changeup and sinker. I tried to mix it up as much as possible, and Tyler called a good game.”
The Sox’ offense struggled again, getting just 5 hits against Minnesota starter Scott Diamond and three relievers.
Adam Dunn did snap an 0-for-31 slump with a home run leading off the seventh inning, but the White Sox ultimately were burned by failing to cash in with more than 1 run in the fourth.
Alejandro De Aza led off the fourth inning with a double, moved to third base on Diamond’s wild pitch and scored on Jeff Keppinger’s groundout.
But after Alex Rios walked and Paul Konerko singled, Dunn struck out and Rios was caught trying to steal third.
“Sooner or later, you’ve got to get it together and piece together some innings,” Ventura said. “Today we were doing at least some small stuff, but it’s got to be extended. You’ve got to extend those innings and get more out of it than we’re getting.”
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