Saturday, April 11, 2015

Milone, Twins crash White Sox home opener

The Twins landed in the win column for the first time this season with a 6-0 victory over the White Sox on Friday at U.S. Cellular Field behind a strong starting effort from left-hander Tommy Milone.
If not for Micah Johnson's great speed, Milone would have been working on a no-hitter into the eighth. Johnson's bunt-single leading off the third, which he beat out by a half of a step, stood as the only hit off of Milone until Tyler Flowers' two-out double in the eighth. Milone walked two in the first inning, and the southpaw fanned seven over 7 2/3 innings. More >
Minnesota entered with just one unearned run scored on the season, but picked up its first RBI in the first on Joe Mauer's single off of Hector Noesi. Mauer reached base four times. Brian Dozier added a solo shot off of Matt Albers in the sixth and Jordan Schafer had a two-run single during a three-run ninth.
"Even though it was only one tally, it kinda relaxed everybody to get an RBI hit from Joe to get us on the board right out of the chute," said Twins manager Paul Molitor, who posted his first win at the helm. "I think everyone kinda felt a little bit of a pick-me-up there because we got off to a start where we got on the board before the other team." More >
The loss was the first for the White Sox in their home opener since 2007 against the Indians, and marked the first time since 1996 that the club lost on Opening Day and in the home opener in the same season. The White Sox stand at 0-4 for the first time since 1995. More >
"Just play the game, let the game come to you and when you get through it, when you're going to be better off," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of his team's 0-4 slump. "That's the feeling I get. They're trying to do way too much. Maybe believing in the hype but in the end they are good players."
Limiting damage: If you are looking at Noesi's start as a cup-half-full situation, then the fact he limited the Twins to two runs was a positive note. He also struck out six. But Noesi walked six (one intentional) and threw 110 pitches over 4 2/3 innings. He had a hit batsman, two wild pitches and a balk for good measure.
"Too many walks," Noesi said. "I think that's why I threw in the first inning and second inning too many pitches." More >
Finally: The Twins collected their first RBI of the season when Mauer singled to drive in a run in the first inning. Eduardo Escobar scored after being hit by a pitch and advancing on a wild pitch. The Twins left the bases loaded after two walks. Minnesota began the season with 24 straight scoreless innings before scoring on an error in the seventh against the Tigers on Thursday.
Too early of a jump: Johnson showed off his speed by beating out a bunt leading off the third. His basestealing, though, remains a work in development. Johnson was picked off of first during the Kansas City series, and was caught going too early off of second by Milone slick inside move.
"You don't want it to deter you as a baserunner," Johnson said. "You can't be scared. Remain confident and understand that is my game and I'm going to keep working at it and learn."
The first one: Dozier hit the Twins' first home run of the season in the sixth inning. He smacked a one-out solo shot to left field off Albers for a 3-0 lead. Dozier finished with a career-high 23 homers last season.
"We had to get out of [Detroit]. We played good baseball today, all around," Dozier said. "Tommy did a heck of a job. We swung the bats finally, scored some runs. Got people over, got people in."
Flowers' double in the eighth broke a string of 16 straight White Sox batters retired by Milone.
Slow start
Major League Baseball's pace-of-game initiatives received a first-inning test in Chicago. That opening frame took 28 minutes to play, with Noesi and Milone combining to walk four and hit one, while throwing 30 of their combined 59 pitches for strikes. But only one run scored.
Twins: Right-hander Mike Pelfrey will take the mound for his season debut in the second game of the three-game series against the White Sox at 1:10 p.m. CT on Saturday. The veteran right-hander will try to give the Twins their second consecutive quality start.
White Sox: It wasn't the White Sox debut wanted by right-hander Jeff Samardzija, who allowed five runs over six-plus innings in an Opening Day loss to the Royals, but he was bothered more by the three walks and two hit batsmen. Samardzija will be working on regular rest thanks to Tuesday's off-day.

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