The score was tied when Leury Garcia led off the bottom of the 11th. Garcia, who turned 23 last month, is five-foot-eight and 170 pounds. A switch-hitter, he was batting left-handed. He took a strike, then waved at a curveball. With the count 0-2, the only person in the park who was thinking bunt was Garcia. The Twins' pitcher, Sam Deduno, threw another curve. Garcia dropped a shoulder, slipped a hand down the barrel of the bat, tapped the ball down the third-base line, and raced to first.
It was the sum of the violence Sox batters inflicted on the ball in the inning. Deduno balked Garcia to second, then fanned Adam Eaton. Deduno threw a cutter past his catcher, and Garcia sprinted to third. Deduno then also fanned Marcus Semien. He walked Jose Abreu intentionally to pitch to Adam Dunn, a better candidate for the third K. But Deduno's 3-2 curve snaked wildly outside and bounded off the catcher's glove. Garcia ran home, and the Sox were 2-0.
That's a nice start, but a better test will come when the Sox face the Royals in Kansas City this weekend. First, they get one more chance to fatten up on the Twinkies at the Cell this afternoon. The Sox may change their motto from "Make an impact" to "Play the Twins."
Meantime, the good news for the Cubs last night was that their leadoff hitter, Emilio Bonifacio, who had four hits in the team's first game in Pittsburgh, collected five more yesterday—plus a walk. Luis Valbuena, batting behind Bonifacio last night, added three hits. Shouldn't all that result in more than three runs?
Alas, the Cubs had little trouble getting runners into scoring position, at which time they were forsaken in the 16-inning, 4-3 loss to the Pirates. Nineteen runners were stranded, the chief culprits being Starlin Castro (0-6), Ryan Sweeney (1-6), and Welington Castillo (1-8). A 12th-inning homer to right by Anthony Rizzo briefly put the Cubs in jeopardy of winning, but Jose Veras allowed the Pirates to retie the game at three in the bottom half. With one away in the 16th, five hours and 55 minutes after the first pitch, Tony Sanchez singled in Jose Tabata, and the Cubs were 0-2. No baseball game in Pittsburgh history has taken more time.
The two weary teams meet again this afternoon at PNC Park. If the Cubs can keep the loss to nine innings, they'll be better rested for their home opener tomorrow against the Phillies.