Twins 3, White Sox 2
The Twins are rising to the occasion of these big games. Tonight the bullpen pitched 4 scoreless innings, and the Twins won a one-run, low-scoring game. If you're thinking that it seems like a long time since that's happened, you're right. Not only was this the Twins' first 1-run victory since August 27th (precisely 4 weeks ago), it was the first time they won a game in which they scored fewer than 4 runs since August 21st, one day shy of 5 weeks ago.
Nick Blackburn was definitely shaky, and Gardy was probably wise to take him out of the game when he did. Though he was almost constantly in trouble, Blackburn managed to avoid disaster by allowing his only 2 XBH with the bases empty. Both of those hitters wound up scoring, but overall it was a decent performance.
Of course it was nerve-wracking to entrust the game to the bullpen, but Gardy went with the right guys tonight. Craig Breslow needed just 7 pitches to get through the 6th, Boof Bonser gave up a soft single but was otherwise good in 12-pitch 7th, Jose Mijares went through the 4-6 hitters 1-2-3 with just 12 pitches. Of the 4 innings, the 9th was the most exciting (agonizing?). Joe Nathan allowed a drive to the gap in left-center by AJ Pierzynski that Carlos Gomez was able to run down with his afterburner speed. Nathan then walked Nick Swisher on 4 pitches to put the tying run on with 2 out before getting the final out on a routine grounder.
The Twins' attack tonight consisted of 9 singles and 4 walks. Luckily, the speedsters got on base 5 times and scored 2 of the runs. Joe Mauer went 0-4, but 2 of his outs produced runs. Gomez laid down yet another bunt single, giving the Twins nearly double the number of bunt hits of the 2nd place team in the Majors. Definitely a stereotypical Twins offensive performance tonight - good enough for the win thanks to solid pitching and a strong defense.
The series is won, but no one can be satisfied with that. The White Sox' magic number is stuck at 5, but the Twins' is 6. A win tomorrow night puts the Twins ahead of the Sox and puts them as much in control of their own destiny as they can be at this point. There have been so many series this year in which the Twins won the first 2 games but failed to accomplish the sweep. This time it has to be different. The Twins are surging, the Sox are reeling - finish them!