White Sox top Twins 4-1 in home opener
MINNEAPOLIS — Even when the Minnesota Twins catch a break, it doesn’t take long for things to take another turn for the worst.
Austin Jackson hit a two-run single in the fourth inning one pitch after narrowly missing a grand slam, lifting the Chicago White Sox over Minnesota 4-1 on Monday to spoil the Twins’ home opener and stretch their season-opening losing streak to seven games.
It is the worst start for the franchise since the original Washington Senators lost their first 13 games in 1904, according to STATS.
"I know people think we’re freaking out, but we’re not," Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe said. "I think we’re pressing a little bit. I think that’s pretty obvious."
The Twins were 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and are a league-worst 5 for 55 in those situations this season.
They’ve also struck out 79 times, compared to just 72 hits or walks.
"It’s a combination of different things for different people," manager Paul Molitor said. "It’s an experience thing and learning to trust a little bit more."
Jose Quintana (1-0) completed six smooth innings with one run allowed for the White Sox, who have won five of their first seven games.
Twins starter Kyle Gibson (0-2) was charged with only one earned run over 5 2/3 innings, but he was in trouble often and threw a wild pitch that set up Todd Frazier to score on a single by Brett Lawrie.
When Austin’s potential grand slam hooked inches foul, Gibson was relieved. But he couldn’t make a pitch to get Austin out and escape the inning.
"Three walks and give up a couple of big hits," Gibson said. "You can’t expect to get a win out of that."
The wind gusted up to 35 mph on a 42-degree afternoon. Hotdog wrappers occasionally tumbled across the grass and the outfielders were masked up for protection — but this was a chilly start for the Twins in more ways than one. When Kurt Suzuki’s bunt attempt popped up and reliever Matt Albers caught it for an easy double play in the seventh inning, boos bounced around the ballpark.
"I would be, too," Plouffe said. "That’s just part of it. They’re allowed to be that way."
Players spoke confidently before the game about not overreacting to the opening skid, but Molitor acknowledged the "heaviness" of the way they’ve started the season.
"If I’m going to be honest, yeah, today I was out there pressing," Gibson said. "Everybody wants to win on opening day."
The Twins started 1-6 last season, then got back on track following an off day after the home opener. Could Tuesday’s day off give the team a much-needed boost?
"I’m not going to count on an off day to be our solution," Molitor said. "You just encourage guys to take the time off when they can and get the mental break from the game tomorrow."
The Twins have played less than 5 percent of their schedule, but a turnaround could be tough. According to STATS, no major league team has ever started 0-7 and qualified for the postseason. Three teams did so after dropping their first six games: Pittsburgh (1974), Cincinnati (1995) and Tampa Bay (2011).
With a computerized controller strapped around his waist and two battery packs secured under a vest that helps pump blood to his heart, Hall of Famer Rod Carew threw out the ceremonial first pitch less than seven months after suffering a massive heart attack. He’s waiting to see if he’s healthy enough to become a candidate for a heart transplant.
"I really had to hold myself back from crying," Carew said. "It was just a tremendous moment, a tremendous honor."
Twins: RF Danny Santana (hamstring) is on the 15-day disabled list.
White Sox: LHP Carlos Rodon (0-1, 2.57 ERA) will pitch Wednesday on six days of rest, after the series takes a break Tuesday. He struck out six in seven innings in his season debut at Oakland last week.
Twins: RHP Phil Hughes (0-1, 4.50 ERA) will take the mound Wednesday. He gave up one run and just six baserunners over eight innings for the win June 24, 2015, the last time he faced the White Sox.