This is what happens when two struggling teams with subpar pitching lock horns.
And though it came in 5-4 a loss, Oswaldo Arcia took full advantage of the circumstances Saturday in Chicago.
With a line-drive smack over the right center field wall at U.S. Cellular Field, the rookie left fielder became the first Twins player in 49 years to homer in four straight contests against the White Sox. He’s also the club’s first rookie to clear the fence in four consecutive games against the same opponent since 1982.
In many other series, his achievements might receive more attention.But everyone in this matchup of American League Central strugglers seems to be knocking the cover off the ball.
After combining for 11 home runs in Friday’s doubleheader, Minnesota (51-63) and Chicago (44-71) totaled three more Saturday. Justin Morneau and White Sox right fielder Jordan Danks each sent one sailing, and Arcia followed up Morneau’s in the top of the third with his 10th home run this season and third in as many games.
The last Twins player to hit a home run in four straight against the White Sox was Bob Allison in 1964. Kent Hrbek knocked one out of the park in four consecutive games against Kansas City during the 1982 campaign, his first in the majors.
Perhaps seeing such marks fall shouldn’t come as surprising.
Entering Saturday’s contest, Minnesota’s starting rotation held Major League Baseball’s second-worst combined ERA (4.31). Chicago’s starters have been better — a 3.82 ERA, good for 11th in the league — but its bullpen hasn’t been able to follow up with quality relief appearances, especially lately during a 5-15 skid since July 22.
Neither Twins right-hander Mike Pelfrey (five innings pitched, five earned runs) nor White Sox righty Andre Rienzo (5 1/3, four) were very effective in their starts Saturday.
Blake Tekotte and Conor Gillaspie’s sixth-inning RBIs erased the 4-3 lead forged by Morneau’s three-run homer and Arcia’s blast two batters later. The Chicago win was its third in 11 tries against Minnesota this summer.
The teams finish their four-game weekend series at 1:10 p.m. Sunday.