There was nothing notable about the first seven innings of Sunday's Twins-White Sox game, aside from a brief rain delay in the first inning. Two teams, neither of whom are in the playoff picture, battling it out over the course of a nondescript August afternoon rarely inspires much attention. Then, the Twins' offense decided to make the day's action just a little more noteworthy.
What was a 4-3 Minnesota lead going into the eighth inning finished as one of the biggest blowouts of the season: A 16-3 shellacking by the Twins, who scored 12 times in the final two frames, including nine in the eighth. Every single player in Minnesota's lineup finished with at least one hit, paced by Danny Santana's five-hit game out of the leadoff spot. And just to add a little spice to it, the Twins even hit back-to-back-to-back homers in the ninth inning to cap off the win.
The trouble all started in the top of the eighth off White Sox reliever Taylor Thompson. Eduardo Nunez
led off the inning with a walk, then stole second and came home on a Santana triple, making it 5-3 Twins. A walk to Brian Dozier
finished Thompson, who gave way to Ronald Belisario
. The Dominican right-hander proceeded to pour gasoline all over the pile of oily rags that Thompson had left out, giving up four straight singles to Trevor Plouffe
, Josh Willingham
, Kennys Vargas
and Chris Parmelee
With the score now 8-3, Belisario exited and was replaced by Eric Surkamp, who looked at the mess of gasoline and rags, and decided what it was missing was a match thrown right into the middle of it. Surkamp gave up four more hits, including Santana's second of the inning, and five more runs before finally getting Willingham to pop out to finish the eighth.
The butcher's bill for Chicago's eighth inning: Nine runs allowed on nine hits, three of them for extra bases, along with two walks. Neither Thompson nor Belisario managed to retire a batter in the eighth, though Thompson had at least taken care of the side in the seventh. Santana, Nunez and Dozier each reached base twice in the inning, and even pinch-hitter Parmelee, stepping in for Chris Colabello, got into the action, picking up an RBI single.
But that wasn't it for Minnesota. Now down 13-3 in the ninth, manager Robin Ventura sent out Andre Rienzo to put an end to a miserable day. He got off to a good start, getting Vargas to strike out swinging, but then gave up consecutive homers to Parmelee, Arcia and catcher Eric Fryer. Arcia's shot in particular was a majestic blast, clearing the seats in right field and reaching the concourse area behind them.
came on for the ninth and, despite allowing two hits, managed to preserve the 13-run lead. Chicago's bullpen meltdown wasted a good start from Jose Quintana
, who gave up just an unearned run through his five innings of work, only to watch his teammates give up 15 earned runs in four innings.
All told, Minnesota banged out 23 hits on the day with 14 of them in the last two innings of play. It's the tenth time this season a team has scored 16 or more runs in a game; only Tampa Bay (16-1 over the Yankees) and, amusingly enough, the White Sox (16-2 over the Rangers) have put up greater margins of victory in the process. For Minnesota, it's the first time since Sept. 4, 2012 that the team has scored 16 or more runs. Incredibly enough, that also came against Chicago, when the Twins beat the White Sox, 18-9. As for the back-to-back-to-back jacks, the last time the Twins pulled off that trick was back in 2001, when Doug Mientkiewicz, Corey Koskie and Torii Hunter hit consecutive homers against Milwaukee's Jimmy Haynes as part of a seven-homer day.
Santana, meanwhile, picked up the first five-hit game by a Twins player since, unsurprisingly, Joe Mauer, who went 5-for-7 against the Indians on August 14, 2013. In fact, Mauer had recorded the last three five-hit games for Minnesota and four of the last seven. Santana drove in four, reached base six times and finished a homer shy of the cycle. Two other Twins, Arcia and Fryer, each had three hits. And in your feelings of pity for the White Sox' bullpen, save some for the Twins' Willingham. As his teammates ran roughshod on Chicago, Willingham finished 1-for-7 with three strikeouts and left 10 men on base.