"We call that Twins ball," said Minnesota first baseman Justin Morneau. "Chopper, 27-hopper up the middle, blooper and somebody has a big hit. That's what it seems like."
One swing of the bat by Morneau actually turned a chance for Clayton Richard (0-1) to pick up his first Major League victory into his first big league loss. But the five-run, fifth-inning rally was set up by Mike Redmond's bloop single that fell just out of the reach of center fielder Brian Anderson's diving attempt and walks to Brendan Harris and Denard Spann, which were sandwiched around Carlos Gomez's run-scoring single to right-center.
Joe Mauer cut the deficit to 4-2 with a sharp single up the middle, which hit Richard in the right ankle and rolled toward the White Sox dugout. Mauer's single kept the bases loaded for Morneau, who would be leading the American League in RBIs with 82, if not for Josh Hamilton's superhuman effort.
Morneau connected on a 2-2 pitch from Richard, driving home all three runs with a double over the head of right fielder Jermaine Dye. His blast played a huge role in a third straight loss for the White Sox (59-46).
Aside from this one apparent mistake on a changeup, Guillen and Toby Hall, his catcher Tuesday, liked what they saw from Richard.
"What I see is a lot of guts. He goes after people," said Guillen of Richard, who allowed five runs on seven hits over 4 2/3 innings, striking out three and walking two. "The guy who hurt him, he hurts everyone. I love what I see from this kid."
"He did great," Hall added. "It just goes to show what he's capable of doing. I think every time he goes out, he gets better. He carries himself well and he competes."
Glen Perkins (8-3) earned the victory for Minnesota (59-47), with relief help from Jesse Crain, Dennys Reyes, Matt Guerrier and Joe Nathan (29th save).
The White Sox had a chance to get even in the seventh. Orlando Cabrera opened the frame with a single off Crain, and pinch-hitter Nick Swisher saw 12 pitches before lining a drive to left-center.
It was a fly ball tracked down by the fleet-footed Gomez. Crain retired Carlos Quentin and Dye on routine grounders to end the inning.
"In that situation, I'm just trying to get on base," Swisher said. "Crain threw the kitchen sink at me, but [Gomez] is just so fast."
Swisher cut the lead to one with two outs in the ninth, breaking an 0-for-18 funk by launching his 15th home run off the upper deck in right against Nathan. The strange twist on this long ball was that Nathan's pitch splintered Swisher's bat.
"As soon as I made contact, I thought to myself, 'Man, that felt good coming out,'" said an astonished Swisher. "And the next thing you know, I had nothing but an eighth of a bat in my hand."
Josh Fields' two-run double in the second and Anderson's sixth home run leading off the fifth helped the White Sox build a four-run lead. But it wasn't enough to avoid watching the Twins climb within one-half game of the lead in the American League Central.
After the setback, Guillen briefly spoke to his charges in the clubhouse. It wasn't a fire and brimstone sort of speech or any sort of scolding. Instead, Guillen reminded the players to play hard and have fun during these final two months.
They seemed to heed his advice, joking about the choice of music on the radio and portraying a laid-back atmosphere in general. The Twins used their style of play to climb closer to the White Sox, but the White Sox still have two games remaining at the Metrodome to hold on to first place.
"Last year, I remember being in this place and I couldn't wait to get out of here," Guillen said. "My mind was in Miami. Now, I'm competing and happy and proud of the way they are going out there. You never know if this is the last pennant race in your life, so go out and enjoy yourself. You may end up somewhere else and be in last place for the rest of your career."
"That reinforced exactly what we are all thinking," added Swisher of Guillen's talk. "It's frustrating losing these first two, but nobody is panicking."