Twins complete sweep of White Sox
MINNEAPOLIS – Brian Dozier's two-run homer for Minnesota was one of a career-high four long balls hit off starter John Danks, and the Twins finished their first three-game sweep of the season and their first over the White Sox in three years with an 8-4 victory Thursday.
Oswaldo Arcia went deep in the second inning ahead of Dozier. Clete Thomas and Eduardo Escobar hit back-to-back shots in the fourth, sending the Sox to their seventh defeat in the last eight games. They fell to a league-worst 13-28 on the road and 5-13 in June.
Danks (1-4) lasted only five innings, giving up 12 hits and six runs. Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn hit consecutive home runs against Scott Diamond (5-6) in the sixth inning, but that wasn't nearly enough.
The six combined homers on this humid, breezy afternoon matched a record at Target Field, which opened in 2010. Before this series, the Sox were 15-4 at this open-air ballpark. The Twins last swept them Sept. 14-16, 2010, in Chicago.
The Sox dropped to 29-41, the first time they've been 12 games under .500 since the last day of the 2007 season, when they finished 72-90. That was the only year in the history of the AL Central, which was created in 1994, the Sox have finished in fourth place. They've never finished last in the Central, but they're well on their way this summer, with starting pitching joining this week the list of problems topped by fielding and scoring.
The signs of struggle were everywhere. Alejandro De Aza's drag bunt attempt in the fifth inning sailed about 20 feet in the air all the way to Dozier for an easy catch at second base. Then in the sixth, shortstop Alexei Ramirez let a soft two-out grounder get through his legs for an error. Two batters later, Justin Morneau's two-run single with the bases loaded stretched the lead to 8-4.
Danks, whose season started late because of surgery last summer on his left shoulder, fell to 0-4 in his four road starts with a 7.29 ERA. Nine of the 10 home runs he's allowed have been on the road.
Diamond won for only the second time in his last eight starts, with only one completion of six innings in that span. This turn, he lasted 5 1/3 innings with seven hits and four runs allowed. One of those was unearned, due to a throwing error by third baseman Trevor Plouffe in the fourth.
Reliever Jesse Crain has been one bright spot for the Sox, at least.
The former Twins right-hander set a franchise record with his 28th consecutive scoreless appearance, passing J.J. Putz's mark from 2010. Crain, who has 37 strikeouts in 28 innings during the streak, has allowed only two runs all season, most recently on April 12.
NOTES: The six victories (out of nine) were the most on a homestand by the Twins since winning six of 12 here on from July 14-24, 2011. ... Konerko has just three HRs and 14 RBIs since May 1. His career-low HR total for a full season is 18 in 2003, and he averaged 29.6 over his first 14 years with the Sox. He has seven so far this season. ... Sox manager Robin Ventura expressed encouragement about RHP Jake Peavy's first real exercise – riding the stationary bike – since he broke a rib two weeks. Peavy is expected to miss another two to four weeks. ... Twins CF Aaron Hicks (strained left hamstring) is on track to begin a rehab assignment next week. Backup OF Wilkin Ramirez (post-concussion symptoms) started one on Thursday with Class A Fort Myers. ... Josh Willingham was back in LF for the Twins, his left knee feeling better because of a cortisone injection. Willingham has been the DH 13 times this season, with five of those in the last 10 days. ... The Twins play three games at Cleveland beginning on Friday. RHP Samuel Deduno (3-1, 3.26 ERA) will pitch the opener, with LHP Scott Kazmir (3-4, 5.89 ERA) starting for the Indians. ... The Sox start a three-game series in Kansas City on Friday by sending LHP Hector Santiago (2-5, 3.30 ERA) to the mound at Kauffman Stadium. RHP Jeremy Guthrie (7-4, 3.72 ERA) will pitch for the Royals.