The first inning has not been kind to Lance Lynn this season.
It was another tough first for the Chicago White Sox starter Friday against the Minnesota Twins. And the defense didn’t help the cause.
Alex Kirilloff and Byron Buxton homered during a five-run first as the Twins defeated the Sox 9-4 in front of 31,339 at Target Field.
The Sox had a chance to get out of the inning with significantly less damage.
With one out, Edouard Julien hit a liner off the left-field wall and tried to take second. Andrew Benintendi’s throw was there in plenty of time, but Elvis Andrus couldn’t hold on to the ball and Julien was safe. Andrus was given an error on the play.
Kirilloff followed with a home run, giving the Twins a 2-1 lead.
Max Kepler reached on an infield hit when Andrus ranged to the hole, fielded but couldn’t make a throw. Matt Wallner walked and Buxton hit a first-pitch fastball over the wall for a three-run homer.
“It was a long first inning, but at the same time it could have been a short first inning,” manager Pedro Grifol said. “Defensively in that first inning we made a couple of mistakes that cost us some runs. It seemed like every mistake also that Lance made them hit hard.
“He gave up five in that inning, but we didn’t play good baseball in that first inning as well.”
Lynn was charged with four earned runs in the inning. He has a 10.80 ERA in the first inning this season and has allowed eight home runs.
“That’s part of the game,” Lynn said of the miscues. “You have to make pitches to get through that. I gave up two home runs.”
Lynn allowed two more home runs in the fourth. Buxton led off the inning with his second homer of the game. Ryan Jeffers also had a solo homer, making it 7-1.
“When it’s all said and done I gave up four home runs,” Lynn said. “It’s hard to win when you do that.”
Another defensive miscue, a two-base error by right fielder Zach Remillard trying to catch a flyball, kept the seventh inning alive. The Twins made the Sox pay with a two-run double by Kirilloff.
“(Lynn) got those two outs in the seventh and we made a mistake out there on the defensive side and they capitalized on it,” Grifol said. “Good teams do that. They’re in first place for a reason. They did that in the first inning, same thing with the ball off the wall. (Benintendi) made a good throw and again, Elvis makes that play nine out of 10 times. Today he didn’t make it.”
Lynn, who has been mentioned in trade speculation, allowed nine runs (six earned) on eight hits with six strikeouts and three walks in 6 2/3 innings. He threw 100 pitches.
“I didn’t have bad stuff, I just didn’t execute pitches, that’s part of it,” Lynn said. “When I did execute a pitch it didn’t go my way. That’s part of the game. It’s kind of been my year so far.
“And you have to keep going. I was able to get deep into the game and made sure the bullpen didn’t get overused and we still have a chance to win the series.”
The Sox got homers from Benintendi — on the game’s first pitch — and Yasmani Grandal (two-run in the sixth) in the loss and trail the first-place Twins by 10 games in the American League Central.
“We know where we’re at and we know what we need to do,” Benintendi said. “These games, obviously, mean a little more because they’re in first place. But we’re just focused on a game at a time. Tonight didn’t go the way we wanted to, so get them tomorrow.”
Garrett Crochet injury update
Reliever Garrett Crochet had a recurrence of his left shoulder inflammation, the Sox said, and has been returned from his rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte. The left-hander last appeared in a game with the Knights on July 6, according to MiLB.com.
Crochet has been on the IL since June 17.