for this game

Twins down White Sox, inch closer to first in AL Central

Sep 25, 2008 - 4:47 AM By Anthony Maggio PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- With a 2-10 record and seven blown saves since August 24, the Minnesota Twins' bullpen was in large part responsible for keeping the club from gaining ground on or even overtaking the Chicago White Sox for first place in the American League Central Division.

The Twins now are within one-half game in the division thanks to four shutout innings from that same bullpen in a 3-2 victory over the first-place White Sox at the Metrodome on Wednesday.

Joe Mauer drove in a pair of runs while starter Nick Blackburn and the bullpen negated a gutsy performance from lefthander Mark Buehrle, putting Minnesota (86-72) in position for a crucial three-game sweep of Chicago (86-71) with a victory in Thursday's series finale.

"I think we're all going through a grind," Twins closer Joe Nathan said after converting his 39th save in 45 chances this season. "We're all mentally going through this, trying to work our way through and just continue to play baseball. You go out and continue to play hard and things will turn around, things will go your way.

"Right now, we're just hoping we play our best baseball because this is the time we need it."

Minnesota got critical shutout innings from Craig Breslow, Boof Bonser, Jose Mijares and Nathan after Blackburn (11-10) gave up two runs, eight hits and two walks with a pair of strikeouts in five innings.

Mijares, a 24-year old lefthander who made his major league debut less than two weeks ago, highlighted the bullpen's performance by retiring Jim Thome, Paul Konerko and Ken Griffey Jr. in order in the eighth inning.

"How about Mijares?" Twins manager Ron Gardenhire asked rhetorically after the game. "If that's not a wake-up call for a young pitcher, I don't know what is. I've put him out there a couple of times and every time he's going out there he hasn't backed away."

Buehrle (15-12) suffered the loss, but it certainly wasn't from lack of effort. Buehrle gave up three runs through two innings as he struggled some with his command - he walked a season high-tying four batters - but stranded a pair of runners in each of the first three innings and retired 13 of the final 16 batters he faced through seven frames.

Buehrle, now 1-3 in four starts against the Twins this season, gave up three runs on eight hits and struck out three while throwing a season-high 121 pitches.

"We can't ask for better than that," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "If we pitch like that tomorrow, I'll take my chances. But we better start hitting."

After Mauer's RBI grounder in the first inning gave Minnesota the lead, Chicago had a golden opportunity to come right back with a big inning. Griffey Jr.'s RBI groundout knotted the score, but the White Sox couldn't capitalize on the three straight singles that followed as DeWayne Wise struck out to end the inning.

Griffey Jr. homered for the second time in as many games in the fourth inning to make the score 3-2 and again Chicago put two more runners in scoring position, but Wise fouled out on the first pitch of his at-bat to again end the threat.

"I just tried to convince myself to make a pitch and not try to press and overthrow anything," Blackburn said. "Just tried to keep the same mindset as a bullpen (session). Just tried to keep going after those guys and whatever happened ... happened."

Blackburn beat Chicago for the second time in as many home starts against it this season and improved to 8-3 in his 14 home starts this year.

His run support came primarily from Mauer, who hit an RBI groundout each of the first two innings while seeing his 12-game hitting streak come to an end. Denard Span, who scored the run in the first innings, drove in Nick Punto with a single in the second inning before Mauer plated Carlos Gomez.

Delmon Young provided three hits for the Twins, who won their third consecutive game for the first time since winning four in a row from August 19-22.

Orlando Cabrera, Alexei Ramirez and A.J. Pierzynski all had two hits for Chicago, which lost for the fifth time in its last seven games while falling to 1-7 at the Metrodome this season.

Pierzynski's bid for a double in the ninth inning to put a runner in scoring position with one out was tracked down by Gomez, whose speed also led to a bunt single in the second inning before he ultimately came around to score.

Despite obvious momentum for the Twins, who were backed by a raucous crowd of 42,126 on Wednesday, Guillen isn't worried about his team's mindset.

"I don't have kids here," Guillen said. "The only guy in the field that's a kid is Ramirez. They know how to handle themselves. I've got two Hall of Famers. They won't be tight."








  • AL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    CHI WHITE SOX 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 9 0
    MINNESOTA 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 x 3 9 0 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: CHA - MARK BUEHRLE, SCOTT LINEBRINK (8TH) AND A.J. PIERZYNSKI
    MIN - NICK BLACKBURN, CRAIG BRESLOW (6TH), BOOF BONSER
    (7TH), JOSE MIJARES (8TH), JOE NATHAN (9TH) AND

    Sep 24 10:52 PM
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    White Sox 2, Twins 3  Top 9, 0 OutsSep 24 10:51 PM
  • 60
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    RUWTbot Added 35 roots (Close Finish)

    White Sox 2, Twins 3  Bot 7, 0 OutsSep 24 10:12 PM


  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY KEN GRIFFEY JR (3) TO RIGHT WITH 1 OUT IN
    THE 4TH OFF NICK BLACKBURN.
    CURRENT SCORE: CHI WHITE SOX 2, MINNESOTA 3
    DUE UP FOR CHI WHITE SOX: A RAMIREZ (.295, 1-FOR-1)

    White Sox 2, Twins 3  Top 4, 0 OutsSep 24 9:18 PM
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    White Sox 1, Twins 3  Bot 3, 0 OutsSep 24 9:06 PM


  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
    FIELDER'S CHOICE BY JOE MAUER SCORED CARLOS GOMEZ.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, J MAUER ON FIRST, D SPAN ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CHI WHITE SOX 1
    MINNESOTA 3 BOTTOM, 2ND
    DUE UP FOR MINNESOTA: J MORNEAU (.308, 0-FOR-1)

    White Sox 1, Twins 3  Bot 2, 0 OutsSep 24 8:51 PM


  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY DENARD SPAN SCORED NICK PUNTO.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, D SPAN ON FIRST, C GOMEZ ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CHI WHITE SOX 1
    MINNESOTA 2 BOTTOM, 2ND
    DUE UP FOR MINNESOTA: A CASILLA (.287, 1-FOR-1)

    White Sox 1, Twins 2  Bot 2, 0 OutsSep 24 8:46 PM


  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
    GROUND OUT BY KEN GRIFFEY JR SCORED JIM THOME.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, NONE ON, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CHI WHITE SOX 1
    MINNESOTA 1 TOP, 2ND
    DUE UP FOR CHI WHITE SOX: A RAMIREZ (.294, 20 HR, 72 RBI)

    White Sox 1, Twins 1  Top 2, 0 OutsSep 24 8:33 PM


  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
    FIELDER'S CHOICE BY JOE MAUER SCORED DENARD SPAN.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J MAUER ON FIRST, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CHI WHITE SOX 0
    MINNESOTA 1 BOTTOM, 1ST
    DUE UP FOR MINNESOTA: J MORNEAU (.308, 23 HR, 129 RBI)

    White Sox 0, Twins 1  Bot 1, 0 OutsSep 24 8:22 PM
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    White Sox vs. TwinsSep 24 6:01 PM
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