Twins barely avoid no-hitter, get crushed by White Sox 13-0
Luis Arraez broke up Dylan Cease’s no-hit bid with a two-out single in the ninth inning
CHICAGO — Well, that didn’t go as hoped.
The Twins sent their big trade deadline acquisition back to the mound to start Saturday’s game against the White Sox, but Tyler Mahle lasted fewer innings than he did in his last start, when he was pulled in the third inning of a victory over Kansas City on Aug. 17.
Then it somehow got worse.
Eloy Jimenez hit a three-run home run off Mahle in a four-run first inning, and the Twins came within an out of being no-hit by Chicago right-hander Dylan Cease in a 13-0 loss to their American League Central Division rival at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Instead of reintroducing Mahle — who was 1-0 with a 2.51 earned-run average in his three starts — for the stretch run, the Twins suffered their worst loss of the season. Cease retired the first two batters he faced in the ninth, Caleb Hamilton and Gilberto Celestino, on a strikeout and flyout to center — sending the announced crowd of 31,655 into a frenzy. But Luis Arraez sliced a liner into center field to break up the no-hit bid.
Cease’s teammates met him at the mound and the crowd cheered his name before he struck out Kyle Garlick for the final out. The Twins have been no-hit 10 times since moving to Minnesota in 1961, the last time when the Angels’ Jered Weaver held them hitless in Anaheim on May 2, 2012.
Mahle (7-7) was pulled after two innings with what the Twins called “right shoulder inflammation,” which was officially what landed Mahle on the 15-day injured list on Aug. 20. The warning sign in that start was the loss of velocity on his pitches, and the same thing happened on Saturday.
In the first inning, Mahle’s four-seam fastball reached 93.7 mph, about his season average, early. By the second, it was down to 87.7. His cutter and splitter velocities dropped, as well – from 83.9 mph to 81.6 and 87.6 to 83.2, respectively.
Second baseman Nick Gordon moved to the mound for the eighth inning and gave up six runs, four on Elvis Andrus’ grand slam, before being replaced by rookie infielder Jermaine Palacios, activated before the game when Jorge Polanco (knee) went on the injured list.
Aaron Sanchez relieved Mahle and gave the Twins five desperately needed innings of relief, but the right-hander allowed three runs in the fourth inning on a home run by No. 9 hitter Romy Gonzalez, who took an 0-2 pitch into the left field bleachers for his first career home run to make it 7-0.
Meanwhile, after cranking out 11 hits in Friday night’s 4-3 loss, the Twins couldn’t buy one off Cease, hitless through eight innings. The only base runner the White Sox right-hander allowed was Gilberto Celestino, who drew a two-out walk in the sixth. Cease (13-6) faced the minimum in the other eight innings he pitched.
After five innings, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli replaced shortstop Carlos Correa with rookie Jermaine Palacios, activated before the game when Jorge Polanco (knee) went on the injured list, and right fielder Max Kepler with Kyle Garlick.
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