Friday, April 15, 2016

Mat-nificent: Latos, White Sox sweep Twins

 Mat Latos put together his second straight quality start and the White Sox produced enough offense against Ervin Santana to claim a 3-1 victory Thursday and sweep the three-game series from the Twins at Target Field.
The White Sox improved to 7-2 overall and a robust 6-1 on the road, while the Twins fell to 0-9. Per MLB Network pregame notes, the Twins are off to the franchise's worst start since the 1904 Washington Senators opened their season with an 0-13-1 mark in their first 14 games. The Twins became the fourth team since 1969 unable to score more than three runs in any of their first nine games, and they have the longest losing streak to start a season since the Tigers started 0-11 in 2002.
"It's always been tough. I don't care if it was in the Metrodome or not. It's always been a tough place to play," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura, whose team improved to 30-30 all-time at Target Field and is off to its best nine-game start since an 8-1 run in 1981. "They always have good teams, and they've always had good managers to go with it. Very great teams, and we're happy to get out of here with what we did and move on."
Latos yielded one run on three hits over six innings, striking out four batters and walking one. In two White Sox trips to the mound, Latos has given up one earned run on four hits and two walks in 12 innings. More >
"It's getting harder, I'll tell you, to kind of come up with words," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It's kind of the repetitive story day to day. We get good pitching and just not enough offense once again. Not a lot of opportunities, but we left a couple guys out there. We're just trying to find a way to put some numbers on the board offensively, but it's just not happening right now."
Minnesota's Taylor Rogers, ranked as the club's No. 13 prospect by, made his Major League debut. Rogers, 25, gave up one hit and got the final two outs in the ninth. More >
Swing and a drive: The ball didn't exactly carry during this three-game series at Target Field, making Garcia's solo homer in the fourth all the more impressive. After battling Santana through a nine-pitch strikeout in the second, Garcia connected on a 1-0 pitch for a 424-foot homer. His drive hit the back wall in center.
"Any time you have a nine-pitch at-bat, you start seeing more pitches," Ventura said. "Your timing gets a little bit better. You're seeing it out of his hand a little bit longer. Balls weren't carrying very well today, but the one he got out front, he's strong. Even in right-center, it ends up setting him up for some good at-bats later on that made a difference for us."
Bruised Buxton: Twins outfielder Byron Buxton left the game with a left hand contusion after he was hit by a pitch from Latos in his first at-bat. Buxton stayed in the game and stole second base in the third, but he was replaced in center field by Max Kepler to start the fourth. The team announced X-rays were negative, and he's considered day-to-day. More > 
When the going gets tough: Minnesota's struggle to score runs was exemplified in the sixth after Eddie Rosario led off with a single and stole second base. Joe Mauer sent a slow grounder down the third-base line, which was picked up by White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier. Frazier likely didn't have a play to get Mauer at first, but he was able to catch Rosario too far off second and got an out in a rundown. Trevor Plouffe fouled out andMiguel Sano flew out to center to end the frame. More >
The streak lives on: Matt Albers has now thrown 28 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings over 25 appearances, dating back to Aug. 5, 2015, but Wednesday's extension didn't come without a fight. Byung Ho Park launched a one-out double to center, and one out later, Kepler drew a walk. Albers might have had Park on a set pickoff play at second, but he threw the ball into center when he spun around on the move. With runners on second and third, Albers retired Brian Dozier on a weak tapper back to the mound to end the rally.
"Once we start winning, and everybody starts getting hot, you never know what can happen." -- Frazier
"I know we've said this before, it kind of gets redundant, but we're nine games into the season now. 0-and-nine [stinks]. It does. It's bad. But we've got a lot of baseball left to play. I think this is when a man's true character is revealed. Anyone can be happy and work hard when things are going their way. But when your back's against the wall and it's looking bad, this is when your true character comes out. I think you'll see that in this team. I know you'll see it from me. I'm not going to shy away from it. I'll continue to work hard, and we'll get out of this funk. No doubt in my mind." -- Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe
Brett Lawrie has hit in 14 straight games against the Twins for a .351 average, dating back to the second game of a doubleheader on April 17, 2014. It's the second-longest active streak against the Twins, behind Josh Donaldson at 24. Lawrie, who finished 1-for-4 is hitting .265.
The White Sox started the 2015 season with a 2-12 road record. They opened 2-6 away from home in 2014 and began 0-5 on the road in 2013. They are 6-1 entering this weekend's Rays series.
Frazier reached with two outs in the eighth on a throwing error by shortstop Eduardo Escobar. The call was challenged by Minnesota manager Paul Molitor, but after video review, the call stood and Frazier remained on first.
White Sox: Chris Sale stays in his regular rotation spot, despite Sunday's postponement and Tuesday's scheduled off-day, to face the Rays at 6:10 p.m. CT Friday. One of Sale's top career efforts came at Tropicana Field in 2012, when the southpaw fanned 15 over 7 1/3 innings.
Twins: Tommy Milone makes his second start of the season at 7:10 CT Friday against the visiting Angels. Milone retired the first 10 Kansas City batters he faced in his first start before allowing back-to-back homers and giving up four runs (two earned) in a loss.

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