The Minnesota Twins will finish the first half of the season as the fourth place team in the American League Central, as the Chicago White Sox prevented a potential sweep by getting a rare win over Minnesota by a score of 4-3 on Saturday afternoon on U.S. Cellular Field.
The victory was the first for the White Sox over the Twins in seven games this season, and the first time they've beaten the Twins since last season.
The White Sox got on the board first in this one, thanks to a solo home run by Alexei Ramirez off of Twins' starter Brian Duensing with one out in the bottom of the first to give the White Sox an early 1-0 lead. The Twins would bounce back in the top of the third with a pair of runs, one coming courtesy of an RBI groundout by Ben Revere, and another on a single by Alexi Casilla in the next at-bat, giving the Twins a 2-1 lead.
Things would remain at that score until the bottom of the sixth, when Paul Konerko's sacrifice fly to center scored Juan Pierre to tie the game at two. The Twins took the lead again in the top of the eighth, when Jason Repko led off the inning with a single, was sacrificed to second by Ben Revere, and took third on a passed ball. Casilla then lifted his own sacrifice fly to center field to plate Repko, and the Twins took the lead back at 3-2.
Glen Perkins relieved Duensing in the bottom of the eighth, and started the inning by hitting Juan Pierre with a pitch. Ramirez then sacrificed Pierre over and, after an intentional walk to Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn fouled out to right, but it was deep enough to allow Pierre to move to third. Joe Nathan then came in to face Carlos Quentin, but Quentin got the better of the match-up, lining a 1-2 pitch to left field to score Pierre and tie the game at three.
After former Twin Jesse Crain retired Minnesota in order in the top of the ninth, Jose Mijares came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth for the Twins, and started the inning by giving up a double to A.J. Pierzynski. He then got Gordon Beckham and Mark Teahen to fly out, and it looked like the game might head to extra frames when he got ahead of Pierre with one ball and two strikes. However, three straight balls meant a walk to Pierre, and Ramirez came through for the White Sox with a single to center that was enough to score Pierzynski and give the White Sox the 4-3 victory.
Neither starter figured in the decision for their teams. Duensing pitched seven innings, allowing two runs on five hits in seven innings of work, and was in line to get the win until the White Sox scored in the eighth. White Sox starter Mark Buehrle pitched eight innings, allowing three runs on four hits and striking out eight Twins. The victory went to Jesse Crain, who now has a record of 5-2 on the season. Mijares ended up with the loss for Minnesota, and that was (somewhat surprisingly) his first decision of the 2011 season, giving him a record of 0-1.
The Twins will play their last game before the All-Star break on Sunday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field against these same White Sox. Scott Baker was scheduled to start, but he will get the day off in order to rest the elbow that he strained in his last start. In his place, the Twins will send right-hander Anthony Swarzak (1-2, 3.71 ERA) to the mound. The White Sox will go with right-hander Jake Peavy (4-2, 4.83 ERA).