MINNEAPOLIS -- After the White Sox's 7-6 loss to the Twins on Monday night, it was difficult to find anyone who was concerned the team's recent fielding woes would turn into an epidemic. And the numbers suggest no reason for alarm; the White Sox entered Monday's game having committed just 44 errors this season -- the second-fewest in baseball.
But there's also no denying that despite a solid defense, lineup and pitching staff, the White Sox are only 55-47, a game and a half better than the Tigers in the American League Central. And for the second time in as many days, errors played a key part in a White Sox loss.
Chicago made three fielding gaffes on Monday night, spotting the Twins three unearned runs. The final mistake of the night -- A.J. Pierzynski's wild throw to first on Brian Dozier's sacrifice bunt in the ninth inning -- moved Alexi Casilla to third, putting him in position to score the winning run on Jamey Carroll's game-ending sacrifice fly. And those mistakes came after Alexei Ramirez's fielding error led to an unearned run for the Rangers in their 2-0 win over Chicago on Sunday.
"That's just something we've got to clean up," manager Robin Ventura said. "The big ones are the unearned (runs). You just give them something they really shouldn't have."
The White Sox also got an unearned run in the fourth inning after Dozier's throwing error put Ramirez on base, but they lost the game in part because of some stellar defense; Denard Span leapt at the center field wall in the fifth inning, taking a home run away from Alex Rios.
In the end, there were more than a few defensive plays that directly influenced the final score. Had the White Sox won on Sunday and Monday, they'd be 2 1/2 games in front of the Tigers, and they'd have a little better positioning in the tight American League wild-card race, should they need it. Instead, they were talking about stamping out something that they wouldn't have expected to be a concern.
"We know that the teams in the division are coming after us," Pierzynski said. "Minnesota's trying to keep their season alive, and whenever we play Cleveland, Kansas City and Detroit, they're obviously gunning for us. We just have to play well. We've been playing really well. Tonight was hopefully just a blip on the radar. We made some mistakes. The one in the ninth inning was the big one that I made. But things happen."