Friday, July 16, 2010
Updated: 12:17 AM
By Brett Ballantini
MINNEAPOLIS The Chicago White Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 8-7 on Thursday in what started out as a marathon but ended up an 8-7 barnburner.
The White Sox have now won nine straight and 15 of 16, 22 of 26, and 26 of 31 games in what has grown from the hottest streak in the majors to one of the most unconscious stretches of winning in team history. Chicago is now a game up on the idle Detroit Tigers for first place in the AL Central and 4.5 ahead of third-place Minnesota.
Chicago jumped out to four runs in the first two innings, paced by exquisite hit-and-run managing by Ozzie Guillen and two Alex Rios sacrifice flies.
But in the bottom of the second, Chisox starter John Danks got into major trouble, surrendering six hits leading to six runs and giving away a lead in what looked to be a runaway game. But to the surprise of no one on the visitors bench, the White Sox indeed chipped their way back, with a run in the fourth and three in the fifth to take the lead for good.
Thats not the way I wanted to go about it, Danks said. But I looked at is as one bad inning. And when the team is playing the way it is right now, no lead on us is safe.
In a game with its fair share of big hits, it was a baserunning decision by Gordon Beckham that ended up providing the deciding run. With one out in the fifth, Juan Pierre struck a double-play ball to second baseman Orlando Hudson, but his counterpart froze on the basepath to force Hudson to get the sure out at first. Beckham beat first baseman Michael Cuddyers throw to second, which allowed A.J. Pierzynski to score what would end up as the deciding run.
Look at the way the game went, Beckham said. That play is what ended up providing the game-winner. When youre playing winning baseball, youre doing the little things and making the extra effort.
Thats the way Ozzie has been steering us all season, said Matt Thornton, who came on with two outs in the seventh with Hudson on third to strike out Jason Kubel. Hit-and-runs, bullpen management, the little thingseven when hes missing, its not by much.
Pierzynski admitted the White Sox played a typical Twins gamecatch the ball, throw strikes, and was enlivened by the raucous atmosphere of the opener pitting bitter rivals against one another.
That was fun, he said. It was a good game. Both teams had big hits and were playing good baseball.
Bobby Jenks came on in the eighth for a rare save of more than three outs. With the bases full, the Chisox closer-on in relief of Sergio Santos-struck out Hudson. Not content to add a couple of grey hairs to the goatee with that cliffhanging effort, Jenks surrendered a leadoff double to Joe Mauer in the ninth and the catcher scored after Delmon Young singled with two outs.
Jim Thome stepped to the plate as the potential winning run, and Bad Bobby Kd the former Sox slugger for the win. It was the 11th save of more than three outs in 11 tries for Jenks in his career, and his first of the season.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.