CHICAGO – A rundown of the Twins' 9-3 loss to the White Sox on Tuesday night might sound eerily familiar.
The Twins take an early lead only to immediately give up the tying runs. Then it's a long slog through the rest of the game as the opponent piles up runs off the Twins' bullpen while the offense goes silent.
The Twins dropped to 12-21 with the loss at Guaranteed Rate Field and fell eight games behind the AL Central leading White Sox. After the three-game series closes Thursday, the Twins return home to face the Oakland Athletics, first in the AL West at 22-15, before then encountering the White Sox again at Target Field for another three-game series.
Chicago scored the final nine runs of the game. The Twins left 10 on base, going 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position, the clutch-hitting failures continuing to plague the team.
The Twins put together a three-hit, three-run second inning against White Sox starter Dylan Cease. Jorge Polanco hit a 378-foot home run. Trevor Larnach walked and base hits from Willians Astudillo and Andrelton Simmons loaded the bases before Ben Rortvedt was hit by a pitch, forcing in a run. A sacrifice fly from Luis Arraez scored one more.
But the lead was short-lived, Twins starter Kenta Maeda gave up a leadoff single to Jose Abreu before walking Yermin Mercedes, then Yasmani Grandal hit a 401-foot home run to right-center.
"I don't want to say it was the only mistake, but that three-run home run, if I didn't give that one up, I think things would have changed," Maeda said in Japanese through an interpreter.
"The way I was pitching from the third inning to the end, that's the feel I need. I felt great about retiring hitters in those innings. So hopefully I can carry it on to the next."
Baldelli and Chicago manager Tony La Russa had a bit of a managers' battle with the score tied in the sixth. With Twins runners at first and third, La Russa pulled reliever Matt Foster after he faced three hitters, signaling for lefty Garrett Crochet to take the mound with one out.
Baldelli pinch-hit Mitch Garver for the light-hitting Rortvedt. But that matchup didn't pan out, with Garver flying out to right field. Crochet then struck out Arraez.
Garver is 0-6 this year as a pinch hitter.
Chicago used that momentum in the bottom of the sixth. Jorge Alcala, relieving Maeda, walked Yoan Moncada and gave up Abreu's seventh homer as Chicago took a 5-3 lead.
The managers did a similar dance in the seventh, with La Russa taking righty Codi Heuer out after allowing two of four batters he faced to reach base, subbing in lefty Aaron Bummer.
Baldelli pinch-hit Kyle Garlick for Larnach. Garlick reached on a fielding error to load the bases. But Astudillo grounded out to strand his teammates.
Chicago tacked on four more late runs, with Alcala, Caleb Thielbar and Derek Law conceding seven hits and six runs total.
Baldelli said he didn't want to "normalize" how the Twins have played this year. But he and others in the Twins camp seem to be left grasping about how to fix it.
"I mean, believe me, we work with our guys on a daily basis to get them in position for them to come in the game and succeed," Baldelli said.
"… We have to keep working and we have to continue really putting our heads together for what we can do for all of our guys.
"Because it has been tough."