Even if the White Sox defeated the top-ranked Twins this weekend in Minnesota, they would still come out of it in pretty bad shape.
That scenario ended with a quick bang at Target Field on Friday night.
Sox starting pitcher Lance Lynn only threw 12 pitches in the first inning, but the right-hander was flagged for 5 runs on 4 hits and plagued by an error when second baseman Elvis Andrus dropped a relay throw.
That set the stage for the Twins’ 9-4 win, leaving the fourth-placed White Sox (41-58) 10 games off the top of the AL Central.
“In that first inning we made a couple of mistakes that cost us a few runs and it seemed like they hit hard on every mistake Lance made,” manager Pedro Grifol told reporters. “He gave up five balls that inning, but we didn’t play good baseball.”
Lynn hasn’t been good from the start all season. The veteran starter now has a 10.80 ERA in the first inning, the highest in baseball.
Lynn also had big problems keeping the ball in the park.
He conceded four homers to Minnesota, including two in the first inning. After Andrew Benintendi started the game with a home run on Twins starter Joe Ryan’s first pitch, Alex Kirilloff responded with a 2-run shot and Byron Buxton hit a 3-run home run for the 5-1.
Buxton, who was 0:26 early in the game, also hit a solo home run on Lynn in the fourth inning, as did Ryan Jeffers.
Lynn has given up 28 home runs this season, the most in MLB.
“I didn’t have any bad stuff, I just wasn’t throwing pitches,” Lynn said after giving up 9 runs (6 of them earned) with 8 hits and 3 walks in 6⅔ innings. “When I pitched, it didn’t go the way I wanted. It’s part of the game and this has been my year so far.”
“You just have to keep going. I was able to get deep into the game and make sure the bullpen wasn’t overused.”
A mistake by right fielder Zach Remillard in the seventh inning resulted in two more unearned runs.
“They jumped out early,” Lynn said. “I made a few mistakes, had bad luck and gave up a few runs. If I pitched in the bad innings that wasn’t an out, sometimes that’s just part of the game. You have to pitch to get out of there.”
“But I ended up giving up four home runs. When you can do that, it’s hard to win.”
The White Sox cut Minnesota’s lead to 7-4 with Yasmani Grandal’s 2-run home run in the sixth inning before the Twins responded in the seventh.
First baseman Andrew Vaughn, who is second with the Sox with 54 RBI, missed his third straight game with a bruised bone in his left foot.