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Twins blow prime chance at first place

After taking leads of 2-0 and 3-2, Minnesota melted down in the ninth

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Chicago White Sox
Chicago White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal scores against the Minnesota Twins during the fourth inning at Guaranteed Rate Field on Sept. 2, 2022.
Kamil Krzaczynski / USA Today Sports
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CHICAGO — The Twins were cleared for takeoff on Friday night, clear skies ahead and visibility so good they could see first place from Guaranteed Rate Field.

Then a black cloud rolled in from the south, and the Twins found themselves stuck on the ground, still a game behind Cleveland in the American League Central Division.

With the first-place Guardians trailing big to the Mariners in Cleveland, Minnesota jumped on Chicago for two runs in the first only to strand two and then have the bats go all but silent in a 4-3, walk-off loss to the White Sox.

Yasmani Grandal hit a one-out, game-tying home run off Caleb Thielbar in the eighth inning, and Jose Abreu hit a bases-loaded groundout to lift the White Sox.

Twins closer Jorge Lopez gave up ninth-inning singles to Romy Gonzalez and Elvis Andrus before hitting Andrew Vaugh to load the bases with one out. That ignited something of a bench-clearing standoff at the mound, and Lopez appeared to hit the next batter, Jose Abreu, with a pitch to drive Gonzalez home with the winning run.

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That was overturned on review, and the teams had to repopulate the field, but Abreu then drove in the winning run with a grounder to second.

It was an abrupt and difficult ending for a game that had started so promisingly for Minnesota, which jumped on Chicago opener Joe Kelly for a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Gordon slapped a two-run double to the right field corner that scored Carlos Correa and Max Kepler. That left the Twins with runners at second and third with just one out.

At the time, the Guardians trailed Seattle, 6-0, in Cleveland, opening a clear window for the Twins to grab a piece of first place for the first time since the teams were tied on Aug. 9.

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But Kelly struck out Gio Urshela and Jake Cave swinging to end the threat. They could have used those runs because Davis Martin came in and held the Twins scoreless for five innings. The right-hander allowed only three hits and a walk and fanned two.

The Twins took a 3-2 lead in the eighth inning when Kepler hit a leadoff, infield single off right-hander Jimmy Lambert and took second on third baseman Josh Harrison’s errant throw. Jose Miranda followed with a single, and new outfielder Billy Hamilton pinch ran.

Gordon scored Kepler, and moved Hamilton to second, on a groundout to second. Hamilton then was caught trying to steal third base – the first time he has been caught in eight stolen base attempts this season – and after a walk to Urshela, Lambert got Jake Cave on a fly to center.

Caleb Thielbar came on for the eighth and gave up a one-out home run to Grandel to tie the game 3-3, and Liam Hendricks shut the Twins down in the ninth, allowing only a one-out single to Gilberto Celestino.

Twins starter Sonny Gray left the game after four innings with what the team called right hamstring tightness. The right-hander faced the minimum through three but the White Sox sent eight to the plate in the fourth, tying the game 2-2 when Gray hit No. 8 hitter Josh Harrison with the bases loaded.

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MLB: Minnesota Twins at Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins left fielder Nick Gordon hits a two-run double against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at Guaranteed Rate Field on Sept. 2, 2022.
Kamil Krzaczynski / USA Today Sports

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