MINNEAPOLIS -- Robin Ventura said he won’t sit still forever after the White Sox defense delivered yet another Benny Hill-esque performance on Monday.
Tired of his team’s poor defensive play and of himself sounding like a broken record, the White Sox manager suggested changes aren’t too far off after the Minnesota Twins routed his team 10-3 in front of 25,605 at Target Field.
One third-inning White Sox error -- the team’s American League-leading 29th -- led to a four-run Minnesota rally while an eighth-inning mental mistake helped the Twins blow the door open.
Instead of running with the momentum gained by Chris Sale’s one-hitter, the White Sox opened a seven-game road trip with a performance with defensive lowlights that are likely headed for a blooper reel.
“There’s lapses of knowing what’s going on, and we’ll work on them,” Ventura said after his team dropped to 15-21. “They’ll have plenty of time to work on. … Eventually you get to that point where you don’t pay attention to what’s going on, we’ll find somebody else to do it.”
The team reached rock bottom -- for this game at least -- in the eighth inning.
Already down 6-3, Oswaldo Arcia’s leadoff blooper to shallow center field somehow found its way into a three-by-six foot window in between shortstop Alexei Ramirez and outfielders Alejandro De Aza and Casper Wells and went for a double.
The Twins eventually loaded the bases and Deunte Heath and the Sox looked as if they might escape when Adam Dunn started a 3-2-4 double play. But Heath intentionally walked Joe Mauer and followed with a free pass to Josh Willingham to force in a run. Justin Morneau then unloaded the bases with a double to right-center for a 10-3 Twins lead.
Long before that, however, were a plethora of other gaffes.
Balls scooted under gloves. Another doinked off a glove. Two trickled away from White Sox defenders, though neither was costly.
“You just have to try to fix it and get better,” De Aza said. “It’s frustrating at the moment because the pitcher is trying to make his pitch and some little thing like that makes the difference. We have to keep (working) and try to fix it.”
The White Sox could take a cue from Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks.
With Minnesota ahead 5-3 in the sixth inning, Hicks soared over the fence in center to rob Adam Dunn of a game-tying home run.
An inning later, Hicks hit a solo homer, his second of the game, off Hector Santiago -- who allowed six runs (three earned) in 5 2/3 innings -- to put his team ahead 6-3.
Santiago held a 2-0 lead early but couldn’t pitch his way out of trouble in the third inning, and his defense offered no assistance.
After he loaded the bases with a walk of Mauer, Santiago induced a weak fly ball to shallow right field off Willingham’s bat for the first out. Then he appeared to get a potential-double play ball off Morneau’s bat, but Ramirez couldn’t glove it and was charged with an error. One run scored on the play and Minnesota scored three more times for a 4-2 lead. Asked if he thought Ramirez should have made the play, Ventura said he thought the shortstop, who has made six errors this season, could have.
Santiago thought so too but also said he has confidence in Ramirez.
“If he has that play 100 times he’s going to make it 99,” Santiago said. “It looked like it hit off the end of his glove, kind of a tough play. But every other day he’s going to make that for us. You can’t get mad because he’s going to make plenty more. It seems like every day we have just one play that could change the game. If we make the play right there, we’re out of it, we’re up 2-0 and we keep the pitch count down. It was a big play in the game.”
Fresh off Sale’s Sunday gem, a players-only meeting on Monday afternoon and Ventura’s postgame chiding on Friday, the White Sox hoped for a fresh start.
Things looked up early when the first three men reached base in the top of the first inning. The White Sox grabbed a 2-0 lead on an RBI double by Alex Rios and a sacrifice fly by Dayan Viciedo.
But Twins starter Pedro Hernandez -- a former Sox farmhand -- settled in and retired 14 of the next 15 batters he faced.
“We have to be better,” Ventura said. “We got to work at it.”