Vasquez, Twins drop opener against White Sox

Vasquez, Twins drop opener against White Sox

Vasquez, Twins drop opener against White Sox
MINNEAPOLIS -- After facing Chris Sale three times this season, the Twins are happy they won't have to face the emerging ace again.

Esmerling Vasquez turned in his best outing as a starter, despite dealing with control problems, but the Twins were stymied by Sale on Friday night in a 6-0 loss to the White Sox at Target Field.

Sale threw six scoreless innings against the Twins, and improved to 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA in 20 innings against Minnesota this season.

"I think the story of the night was Sale. He had his stuff going pretty good and didn't give us much," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We didn't do much offensively, but that's because of the guy on the mound. He's pretty doggone good."

Sale simply outpitched Vasquez, who gave up three runs on just three hits over 5 2/3 innings to fall just one out short of his first career quality start. But Vasquez, making his third career start, also walked four and hit a batter while striking out four.

"I felt much better," said Vasquez, who fell to 0-2 with a 7.53 ERA. "I stayed more aggressive with my pitches and I threw more of my pitches. I threw my changeup for a strike and had more first-pitch strikes, too."

He allowed the White Sox to get on the board in the second inning with an RBI groundout from Dayan Viciedo to score Alex Rios, who led off the inning with a double.

Chicago added another run in the fourth on a bases-loaded walk from Viciedo, which was the third straight free pass issued by Vasquez. But he was able to get out of the one-out jam by striking out Alexei Ramirez and getting Gordon Beckham to pop out to second base.

Vasquez ran into trouble again in the sixth, when he gave up a two-out single to A.J. Pierzynski and a walk to Viciedo. He was removed in favor of reliever Kyle Waldrop, who promptly gave up an RBI single to Ramirez on a hard-hit grounder past Trevor Plouffe at third base.

But Gardenhire still liked what he saw from Vasquez, who mixed in more breaking balls this time around to better success.

"He threw pretty good," Gardenhire said. "It was way better than the last time. Improvement is what we're looking for. He took a step up and took us deeper into the game but unfortunately, we were facing a really good pitcher."

Waldrop surrendered two more runs in the seventh when Kevin Youkilis delivered a solo shot and Rios brought home a run with an RBI single. Luis Perdomo was charged with a run in the ninth following Dewayne Wise's sacrifice fly.

"It was nice to scratch across some runs," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "We did have situations where we could have still knocked some more in but we weren't sitting back just relying on home runs. So it was nice to get some balls in the outfield, our guys running on the bases."

It was more than enough for Sale, who gave up just three hits without a walk over six scoreless frames and kept the White Sox a game ahead of Detroit in the American League Central standings.

The Twins didn't have many scoring opportunities against Sale but failed to capitalize in those situations, going 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position against the left-hander. Minnesota has been shut out 10 times this season after being shut out 13 times last year.

"I just wanted to go out there and be free and easy," said Sale, who improved to 17-6 with a 2.78 ERA. "Not let the little things get to me like recent outings. All in all, very good. I'll tell you one thing I don't think I'd be sitting here right now without some of those plays out there. Alexei -- unbelievable. Youk over there at the hot corner. Just an all-around great game, putting runs on the board. It takes a little bit of the pressure off you and I like pitching like that."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.