By Nate Gotlieb
Contributor to CSNChicago.com
MINNEAPOLIS, MN — There was no music playing in the clubhouse after the White Sox 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Sunday at Target Field. But despite the defeat and the Chicago's long odds of making the playoffs, the players appear to be staying positive.
The White Sox had won three-consecutive games, doing so with strong hitting and efficient outings from their starting pitchers. As of Sunday, Chicago was eight games behind the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central and five behind the Toronto Blue Jays in the race for the final AL wild-card spot.
They have remained in the hunt despite injuries to top relievers Nate Jones and Matt Lindstrom and outfielder Avisail Garcia.
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“It’s tough right now,” manager Robin Ventura said after Sunday’s game. “You got [Zach Putnam] on the DL [and] Avi’s not here…I think guys are playing hard and they’re scratching and clawing, but wherever it ends up, it ends up. We’re just focused on that day and not looking too far ahead, which, you know, I appreciate.”
The day-to-day approach suits a team dealing with constant trade rumors. But even with the distractions, catcher Adrian Nieto said the atmosphere in the dugout at Target field was "amazing."
“Guys were upbeat, just cheering the whole time, getting each other up,” he said. “Hopefully we can continue that, cause that’s something that’ll make a big difference going forward.”
Nieto had reason to upbeat, after hitting his first-career home run in the eighth inning.
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The 24-year-old said he was just hoping that Twins outfielder Sam Fuld wouldn’t catch it, but then he “saw him just look up into the stands, and I see people I guess fighting for the ball trying to get over for it, and I said ‘alright there it is, my first one.’ You know, that was cool.”
Nieto guided starting pitcher Scott Carroll to a one-run, four-hit performance over six innings, before Carroll left with a blister.
Carroll, another rookie, was coming off an 11-hit, five run outing this past week against the Kansas City Royals. He appeared pleased with his performance.
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“I wasn’t trying to be too perfect,” he said. “I didn’t have my best stuff, but when I execute and not try and be too fine, I think that’s when my stuff really plays well.”
Chicago has a chance to make a move in the division this week, with a three-game series starting Tuesday, a stretch Ventura said always serves as a measuring stick. After that, the White Sox will host the Twins.
“They were fighting and clawing all day,” Ventura said. “We just weren’t able to get the big hit.”