Error sends White Sox to walk-off loss

830909.png

Error sends White Sox to walk-off loss

MINNEAPOLIS --- Welcome back, guys.

Alejandro De Aza and A.J. Pierzynski returned to the White Sox lineup on Monday night and did plenty of heavy lifting with a homer and five combined RBIs. But it wasnt enough as Pierzynskis throwing error in the ninth inning helped the Minnesota Twins top the White Sox 7-6 in front of 35,018 at Target Field.

Brett Myers took the loss and the White Sox failed to gain ground on Detroit, a 7-3 loser in Boston.

Danny Valencia started the Twins ninth inning with a solid single off Myers. Pinch-runner Alexi Casilla then raced to third as Brian Dozier laid down a sacrifice bunt and Pierzynskis throw to first was wild. Jamey Carroll followed with a game-winning sacrifice fly to right.

The White Sox received an instant surge when De Aza started the game with a single after an eight-pitch at-bat against Minnesota starter Cole De Vries. Two outs later, Paul Konerko singled in De Aza, who had stolen second base. Alex Rios then singled and Pierzynski, who missed five days with a sore right oblique, launched a 413-foot, three-run homer to right to give the White Sox a 4-0 lead.

The White Sox and starter Jose Quintana couldnt hold the lead and fell behind 6-4 in the third inning.

But De Aza, who missed two days with a sore left wrist, singled in a run in the fourth inning to cut the deficit to one run. He also drove in the tying run with a two-out single in the eighth inning. De Aza finished 4-for-5 with two RBIs.

Quintana struggled early, but settled in to deliver seven innings when it looked like he might not last two.

Spotted a four-run lead in the first inning, the rookie gave it all back immediately. Minneostas first three hitters, all lefties, went the opposite way with success against Quintana. Joe Mauer was the last of the trio and his RBI single cut the Sox lead to 4-1. After Josh Willingham followed with an RBI single, pitching coach Don Cooper visited Quintana. Ryan Doumit later had an RBI groundout before Danny Valencia tied it with an RBI single in the first.

Quintana struggled some more in the third inning as the first three runners reached base. Doumit had an RBI single and Valencia had a sacrifice fly to give the Twins a 6-4 lead.

But Quintana shut down the Twins from there and allowed his team to rally. The left-hander was efficient and retired 12 of the last 14 hitters he faced.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Breaking down the World Series hangover

bochy-maddon-0525.jpg
USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Breaking down the World Series hangover

Do the Cubs have a World Series hangover?

On the latest edition of the Cubs Talk Podcast, NBC Sports Bay Area Giants Insider Alex Pavlovic joins CSN's Patrick Mooney to talk about the World Series hangover, how last year's playoff loss lingered in San Francisco, Johnny Cueto's quirks, the legend of Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija's ups and downs.

Plus Kelly Crull, Jeff Nelson and Tony Andracki break down the Cubs’ defensive struggles this year compared to an historic 2016 and how Ian Happ fits into the Cubs’ lineup in both the short and long term.

Listen to the latest episode below:

What does Caleb Swanigan's departure for NBA mean for Purdue and the 2018 Big Ten title race?

caleb-swanigan-0525.jpg
USA TODAY

What does Caleb Swanigan's departure for NBA mean for Purdue and the 2018 Big Ten title race?

Caleb Swanigan, unsurprisingly, is heading to the NBA.

Last season’s Big Ten Player of the Year announced Wednesday that he’ll pass up the final two seasons of his NCAA eligibility for a paying gig at the professional level, an awesome opportunity for a kid who battled obesity and homelessness to become one of the best basketball players in the country.

But Swanigan’s departure from West Lafayette means a heck of a lot to the Big Ten.

Without the league’s most dominant big man, what becomes of Purdue’s chances at winning a conference title? Similarly, with a weakened — though still strong — group of Boilermakers, what does the Big Ten race look like going into 2017-18?

First, Purdue. Matt Painter’s program is plenty healthy, and while there’s no doubt that losing Swanigan is a big deal, the Boilers got some really good news, too, Wednesday when Vincent Edwards announced he’ll be returning for his senior season. Seven-footer Isaac Haas also made the decision to return to West Lafayette, meaning the towering frontcourt hasn’t been completely decimated just because tha man called “Biggie” is gone.

Purdue will also return Carsen Edwards, who had an impressive freshman campaign, and Dakota Mathias, a terrific defender and 3-point shooter. Two more important pieces — P.J. Thompson and Ryan Cline — are back, as well. And Painter will welcome in freshman Nojel Eastern, a highly touted guard from Evanston.

So the Boilers are still in very good shape. There will be a big magnifying glass on Haas, who despite his physical attributes hasn’t always found consistent on-court success. But there have been plenty of flashes of brilliance from the big man. A big step forward in his game would go a long way in easing the blow of losing Swanigan and could keep Purdue as one of the frontrunners for a conference title.

That brings us to the Big Ten race. Ever since Miles Bridges, the conference’s reigning Freshman of the Year, announced he’d be returning to Michigan State for his sophomore season, the Spartans have been the near-unanimous favorite. Only something like Swanigan deciding to stay at Purdue could’ve changed that. And with Swanigan expectedly heading to the NBA, Michigan State remains the preseason pick to win the conference crown.

Like any good year in the Big Ten, though, there will be challengers.

But Michigan State is the popular choice to win it because of Tom Izzo’s insane 2016 recruiting class is returning completely intact: Bridges, Nick Ward, Cassius Winston and Joshua Langford are all back. And Izzo brings in one of the top 2017 recruits in forward Jaren Jackson.

But Sparty isn’t the only one with an impressive returning group. Purdue’s experienced roster has already been covered. Northwestern, a surprise contender in 2016-17, should be even better as Bryant McIntosh, Vic Law and Scottie Lindsey enter their fourth year playing together. Dererk Pardon, a shot-blocking whiz at center, is also back, as is sharp-shooter Aaron Falzon, who sat out the 2016-17 season with an injury after starting during his freshman year in 2015-16.

There will be big shoes to fill for some perennial contenders like Maryland — which must replace Melo Trimble — and Michigan, which watched eligibility run out on Derrick Walton Jr. and Zak Irvin before D.J. Wilson decided to head to the professional ranks Wednesday. But those teams have plenty of talent returning, too. The Terps will have all three of their fab freshmen — Justin Jackson, Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter — back for sophomore seasons, while the Wolverines have Moe Wagner back in the fold alongside Xavier Simpson and Duncan Robinson, among others.

And what of last year’s shocking contender, Minnesota? The Golden Gophers didn’t lose too much this offseason and will return almost every main player from last year’s 24-10 squad: Amir Coffey, Nate Mason, Reggie Lynch, Jordan Murphy, Dupree McBrayer and Eric Curry.

There are up-and-comers to think about, too, such as last year’s freshman-heavy squads at Iowa and Penn State. And could new head coaches Brad Underwood and Archie Miller make instant splashes at Illinois and Indiana, respectively?

If it sounds a little too much like the annual coach speak that “any team can win on any night” in the Big Ten, that’s because there is a good deal of truth to that oft-used phrase.

There are definitely tiers to this thing, though. Even without Swanigan, Purdue is still in one of those upper tiers. But there might be no team besides Michigan State at the very top of the heap, something underscored by Swanigan turning pro.