Baserunning gaffes cost White Sox in loss to Twins
There's still over half of the season to play, but the White Sox know these next two weeks of games carry more weight than others.
Starting with Monday night's matchup against the Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field, the Sox play first-place Minnesota and second-place Cleveland 11 times before hitting the all-star break.
"We can't think of this as a stretch of games against a division rival," first baseman Jose Abreu said through a translator. "We have to go game by game, try to win every game. Today was a good battle. I think we did our best. We didn't get the result we wanted to but it was a battle."
Baserunning mistakes by Adam Engel and Yoan Moncada in the seventh inning proved costly -- and made the White Sox the first team in major-league history to be victimized by an 8-5 triple play, according to SABR and researcher Sarah Langs.
Both runners ran on AJ Pollock's deep flyball that was tracked down and caught by Minnesota center fielder Byron Buxton, leaving La Russa with an incredulous look in the dugout and prompting a groan from the big crowd of 32,483.
Failing to convert in the seventh, the Sox went on to lose to the Twins 6-3 in 10 innings. The White Sox (38-40) are now 5½ games behind Minnesota in the Central.
"I was watching (Buxton) run toward the wall," Engel said. "He took his head off the ball. I went back and watched the video, he took his head of the ball to find the wall. When he looked toward the wall, I thought he was looking for the ball to get down.
"Bad play. I made a mistake on it. Unfortunate, cost us some runs right there. We probably would have gone on to win the game, so it's tough."
One game is not going to make or break a season, but the White Sox know they have to start making a push in the division.
"This is obviously a critical series," said Liam Hendriks, who came off the injured list before the game and struck out all three Minnesota hitters he faced in the eighth inning. "We're kind of hitting our stride right now so hopefully we continue that on and take a couple of these in this series and start that stretch back to getting back to where we think we need to be, which is on top of the division."
Abreu gave the Sox the lead with a solo home run leading off the second inning and Moncada had an RBI single in the seventh.
Johnny Cueto started for the White Sox and pitched 6 innings, giving up a 2-run homer to Buxton in the fifth.
Before Monday night's game against the Twins, closer Liam Hendriks (strained right forearm) and outfielder Adam Engel (hamstring) were reinstated from the 10-day injured list.
To clear roster spots, the White Sox optioned outfielder Adam Haseley and relief pitcher Jimmy Lambert to Class AAA Charlotte.
Hendriks missed three weeks with the arm injury and was pushing to return sooner.
"Too much time on the IL," he said. "I was trying to convince them to let me go before the Giants series, didn't happen. Threw a sim game on that Friday, tried to convince them to let me be active (Sunday), didn't happen. We had to get through the throwing program, check all the boxes and making sure everything kind of goes through."
Engel missed a big chunk of last season with a hamstring injury. This year's was a minor strain.
"You don't want to go on the IL at all to begin with, but this one was 11 days or something like that," Engel said. "Just glad to be back, glad to be healthy, ready to roll."