All you have to do is look at their last two road games against the Twins, including last night’s heartbreak, to know that playing in Minnesota is still a nightmare for the White Sox. It happened at the Metrodome, it’s happening at Target Field and it probably would happen at a Little League field in suburban Wayzata.
You can also make a very good case that those two games represent the worst Sox defeats of the season thus far. And, eerily, both were 7-6 walkoff losses.
Before last night, that Sunday, July 18 disaster was the one that stung the most. The South Siders enjoyed a three-run lead going into the ninth only to see Bobby Jenks cough up four runs, blow the save and prevent the Sox from splitting their first series after the All-Star break.
For me, that loss was not as bad as last night. Down 4-0 in the first, the Sox battled back to tie the game at 4-4, tied it again at 5-5 on an Alexei Ramirez homer in the ninth and went ahead 6-5 in the top of the 10th. Then “Minnesota” happened. All-Star Matt Thornton gave up a leadoff single to Delmon Young and ex-Sox Jim Thome, he of the “should we keep him, should we let him go” controversy in the offseason, drilled a two-run homer to end the game. Try to get a good night’s sleep after that one.
If that scenario weren’t bad enough, the once strong White Sox bullpen is going through a significant meltdown. Jenks, who appears to be healthy enough to pitch tonight if needed, has not been reliable. J.J. Putz blew two saves over the weekend and now, for the third straight game, a Sox reliever can’t get the job done with a late-inning lead. A pen that once had three possible closers (four if you include Sergio Santos) now has no one they can really count on.
With 43 games to go, all is not lost. But two things trouble me: the fact that the Twins don’t seem to lose anymore, even without Justin Morneau, and the Sox are making a habit of losing close games late. Unless things turn around quickly, I’m afraid we’ll have plenty of time on our hands in October.