Stick a Fork in 'em: The Twins are Toast
We pretty much knew that coming into this series, but the White Sox made sure of it with the proverbial dagger this week.
Former White Sox pre/post-game host Chris Rongey said it best on Tuesday night, “baseball is more fun when the Twins are ass.”
Despite being picked by many to win the American League Central this season, the Minnesota Twins are ass.
Regardless of what happens tonight in the series finale between the White Sox and Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field, or even what happens in the remaining three games in Minnesota next month, the Minnesota Twins are dead in the water on July 21, largely thanks to the White Sox.
The White Sox have taken 12 of the 15 contests between the two teams this season, with the last two serving as a proverbial dagger to the 2021 season in the Twin Cities.
After taking the first game in Monday’s doubleheader in extra innings, the Twins were in a position to sweep the Sox on the day, taking a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning. Yoán Moncada would take Twins’ starter Jose Berríos deep to trim the Minnesota lead to just one run, but the real fireworks came in the following inning.
Rocco Baldelli chose to allow Berríos to start the seventh and final inning in the condensed ballgame, a move that would prove to be the demise for Minnesota on Monday night.
After striking out twice against Berríos earlier in the game, Gavin Sheets had the last laugh, sending the Southside crowd home in a joyful frenzy with his first career walk-off home run.
If that wasn’t enough of a soul-crusher for Twins fans, there was Tuesday night. After taking a 5-4 lead late in the ballgame, the Twins would experience a case of déjà vu in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Jorge Alcala would walk Adam Engel and Zack Collins in back-to-back at-bats, prompting Tony La Russa to call upon rookie Andrew Vaughn to pinch-hit for Seby Zavala with the tying and go-ahead runs on base. Vaughn promptly delivered a flare into right-center field that scored Adam Engel from second base, tying the ballgame at five-a-piece.
Billy Hamilton gave the White Sox the lead with two gone in the inning after a Tim Anderson strikeout on a base hit to left field just past the glove of Josh Donaldson, and then came time for the defending American League MVP Jose Abreu to deliver the final knockout blow to the Twins.
The back-to-back meltdowns by the Twins dropped them to 40-55 on the season and a whopping 18 games behind the White Sox in the American League Central.
The White Sox are 12-3 against the Twins this season with four games remaining (one tonight and three more August 9-11 in Minnesota) between the division rivals, but the season series is already locked up in favor of the Southsiders, who have outscored the Twins 107-55 in 15 games.
It’s been unsung hero after unsung hero for the Chicago White Sox this year, with Gavin Sheets being just one of the bunch.
"It's just the attitude we have that we are going to do it together," Sheets said. "This whole team faced so much adversity this year, and I think come September and October, no one is going to be more prepared for it than us. Just the way we rallied around each other, that’s what's so great around here.
"You bring guys up like myself and Jake [Burger] and throw us into the fire right away, but everybody makes us feel like home. That's why we can have success. Guys make us feel at home and give us confidence. That's why we are in first place and continue to take the punches and have games like this."
Sheets owns a sizzling .896 OPS through his first 17 games with the major league club and has mashed five home runs. Sheets is sporting a 138 wRC+, but he’s not the only rookie or revitalized role player that’s helped the White Sox stretch their division lead to a season-high 9.5 games.
Here’s a look at the wRC+ of some players that you wouldn’t have expected to play a pivotal — if any — role for the White Sox this season.
Jake Burger — 161
Gavin Sheets — 138
Brian Goodwin — 122
Jake Lamb — 113
Andrew Vaughn — 103
Billy Hamilton — 71
Billy Hamilton’s 71 wRC+ can be attributed to early-season struggles, a lack of power, and a sky-high 32 percent strikeout rate. Still, since dropping the switch-hitting act, Hamilton has been much better at the dish, and regardless, his timely hitting, glove, speed on the basepaths, and energy have made him a cult hero to all of Hamilton’s Homies.
You would be hard-pressed to find a better script in Hollywood right now when it comes to baseball teams overcoming adversity than the one being written on the Southside right now, and the Twins were just victims of what is beginning to feel like a team of destiny this year.
As for the Minnesota Twins — you can stick a fork in ‘em; they’re toast.
Take it away, Nancy.
Featured Photo: NBC Sports Chicago