White Sox manager Robin Ventura doesn’t know if it’s the reason his team’s offense has scored just five runs in the past three games, all losses. But it’s a theory.
The Sox might be experiencing a knuckleball hangover. Since Blue Jays’ knuckleballer R.A. Dickey took the mound against the Sox on Thursday in Toronto, Chicago’s offense has struggled. It showed signs of life Sunday, but the Sox dropped their third straight, a 5-3 decision against Minnesota in front of 19,587 at U.S. Cellular Field.
“You think it's going pretty good, you have a good day and then knuckleballers can do weird things to you as far as how your swing is,” said Ventura, referencing the Sox seven-run game against Toronto the day before they faced Dickey. “I don't know if that's it or not. But it does enough to throw you off. That's why guys don't like batting against those guys. But again, sooner or later you've got to get it together and piece together some innings.”
Adam Dunn broke a career-worst 0-for-31 slump with a solo homer and Jeff Keppinger had two RBIs, but the Sox bullpen fell apart in the decisive seventh inning to waste another solid start, this one by Gavin Floyd.
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Floyd gave up one run and three hits in six innings before he was removed for Matt Lindstrom to start the seventh. Lindstrom gave up a leadoff walk and two hits as the Twins tied the game at 2. With runners on first and third, Ventura replaced Lindstrom with Donnie Veal, who walked Joe Mauer on four pitches and was yanked after one batter for the second straight day.
Ventura then brought in Jesse Crain to face Josh Willingham with the bases loaded. Willingham whacked Crain’s first pitch to deep center for a bases-clearing double, giving the Twins a 5-2 lead.
Dunn homered to lead off the bottom half, but Twins’ relievers retired the last nine Sox hitters, with Dunn striking out for the third time to end the game.
The Sox came into Sunday’s game with the second-best bullpen ERA in the majors, but Sunday was a different story.
“Any time you walk the leadoff guy, you are asking for trouble,” said Lindstrom, who got the loss. “And you know my ball had some extra sink on it today. I was trying, that first guy, I was trying to groove a couple in there to see what my ball was doing and it was diving all over the place.”
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Floyd, who came into the game 0-3 with a 6.32 ERA, allowed just two baserunners until the sixth, when he walked in a run before striking out Ryan Doumit to escape the jam.
“It’s a bittersweet thing,” Floyd said. “You’re happy that you threw well, but unhappy that we lost.”
Alejandro De Aza scored the game’s first run in the fourth after leading off with a line-drive double to deep left that hit the glove of Willingham and went over his head. De Aza advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Keppinger’s groundout to short.
De Aza led off the sixth with a bunt single that Twins’ starter Scott Diamond fielded and threw over the head of first baseman Justin Morneau. Right fielder Oswaldo Arcia had to run about 120 feet to retrieve the ball, allowing De Aza to move all the way to third. De Aza then scored on Keppinger’s sacrifice fly.
Diamond, who got the win, gave up one run on four hits in six innings. Glen Perkins recorded his third save in three games for the Twins.