White Sox blanked at Metrodome

White Sox blanked at Metrodome

MINNEAPOLIS -- The question seemed to take Ozzie Guillen by surprise, coming minutes after his White Sox squad suffered a 7-0 drubbing at the hands of the Twins to open this four-game series at the Metrodome between the American League Central's top two powers.

"Our team doesn't play well here? Really?" Guillen asked. "I just take it one day at a time. That's why my hair is still black."

Guillen wasn't kidding when denying knowledge of the South Siders' struggles in their own little Minnesota house of horrors. Prior to the game, when asked to recall what he remembered most fondly about the White Sox four-game home sweep of the Twins, June 6-9, Guillen couldn't come up with one single moment.

If he can't remember the good times, he certainly won't remember the team's bad efforts at the Metrodome. Monday night's performance was one to instantly forget.

"We just had a bad day, a real bad day," said Guillen after watching the ninth shutout thrown against the White Sox in 2008.

"There haven't been many games like this, where every part didn't play good," added White Sox starter Mark Buehrle, who lost at the Metrodome for the first time since April 10, 2005.

Buehrle (8-9) held the Twins scoreless through two innings, but he already realized that good location did not travel with him from Detroit. That fact became evident in the third, when Minnesota scored four times, courtesy of two two-run home runs.

Denard Span blasted the first one, a deep drive to right that marked the first long ball of his Major League career. He connected on a fastball down the middle from Buehrle.

"I never see him before. I'm going to check his bat," said Guillen with a smile. "Buehrle just left one over the plate, and he hit it pretty good."

"You throw a fastball down the middle to these guys, and that's what they are supposed to do," added Buehrle, who joked that he supplied all of the power for Span. "I just wasn't as crisp as I've been."

Justin Morneau connected three batters later for his 17th home run, marking the first time since Opening Day against Cleveland that Buehrle gave up two home runs in a game. A brief moment of levity came from Morneau's blast to center, as Nick Swisher lost his glove over the wall in a valiant attempt to make the catch.

"Off the bat when I hit it, I thought it was gone," Morneau said. "Then I saw [Swisher] kind of drifting back on it, so I thought he might have a chance. I saw his glove go flying -- thought that was interesting."

"I have guys in here who won the World Series and played in big playoff games. I'm sure they are thinking more about what to do at the plate than about playing in Minnesota."
-- White Sox manager
Ozzie Guillen

Minnesota's offensive production, which resulted in five runs scored against Buehrle on eight hits over five innings, paled in comparison to the high-quality start turned in by Kevin Slowey (7-7). Slowey threw his third complete game and second shutout this season, making his six-hit showing nothing out of the ordinary at face value.

Factor in Slowey's 12.38 ERA over two previous 2008 starts against the White Sox, and Monday's nine-inning whitewash becomes that much more impressive and surprising. The White Sox (59-45) never put two runners on base in the same inning, and their lone chance at scoring came in the fourth when Jermaine Dye's drive down the left-field line originally was ruled a home run by third-base umpire Bill Welke. After the umpires conferred, the call was overturned.

"It was the right call," Guillen said.

"Slowey was locating every pitch," added White Sox third baseman Josh Fields, who had one of his team's six hits. "You think you are on a pitch, and the next thing you know you are hitting it off the end of the bat."

With the victory, the White Sox lead in the AL Central dropped to 1 1/2 games over the Twins (58-47). Life doesn't get any easier on Tuesday, with rookie Clayton Richard making his second Major League start.

Guillen has a great deal of respect for the Twins, and he doesn't mind expressing kind thoughts about the AL Central rival. He also doesn't seem bothered that White Sox fans often object to this excess praise of a division rival. Of course, that effusive commentary doesn't prevent Guillen from having every intention of coming to Minnesota and taking as many games as possible.

It's just tough for the White Sox to win at the Metrodome, where they have an all-time mark of 86-102, whether Guillen realizes it or not. Guillen also understands that one game won't send his team into a "here we go again in Minnesota" panic mode.

"Good ballclubs bounce back," Guillen said. "I have guys in here who won the World Series and played in big playoff games. I'm sure they are thinking more about what to do at the plate than about playing in Minnesota."

"That was just one game, and I'm sure that's how the Twins are looking at it, too," Buehrle added. "We wish it wouldn't have happened that way, but we still have a few more against them to try to get two or three wins."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.