Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  By PHIL ERVIN  |  Last updated 8/17/13
MINNEAPOLIS -- When he wasn't doing his darndest to figure out the Chicago White Sox lineup, the Minnesota Twins' newest prized commodity sat near the middle of the first-base dugout, occasionally picking at his fingernails in agitated remorse. It didn't at all resemble the guy who pitched a shutout his last time out here. During his first two big-league starts, rookie southpaw Andrew Albers learned the meaning of fame and fan frenzy. He sniffed majors history, helped draw a crowd of 36,833 spectators to watch two sinking baseball teams, and had Minnesota's neighbor to the north fawning this past week over its latest top-of-the-line up-and-comer. Saturday at Target Field, the mania subsided. Albers pitched fine, not fantastic. A near-historic beginning became a delayed welcome-to-the-big-time experience. "You see today how quickly things can change," Albers said. The final line on Albers' first average-looking outing with the Twins: seven innings, five earned runs on five hits, three strikeouts, and statistical responsibility for an 8-5 loss, Minnesota's second straight in a four-game series that concludes Sunday. Subpar, rather than subhuman. A four-run fourth inning cemented Albers' first taste of defeat at this level, but the reality check began on his second pitch of the night. It was then that White Sox leadoff man Alejandro De Aza singled on a soft line drive to left that dropped in between four Minnesota fielders. Two batters later, Alexei Ramirez's double sent Ramirez to third, and Paul Konerko followed up with an RBI ground-out that put a run next to Albers' name for the first time in 17 13 innings. After two shutdown starts since his contract was selected Aug. 2, he needed three more scoreless frames to knot the longest career-commencing scoreless streak for a major league starter since 1974. The top of Chicago's lineup put that notion to rest almost immediately. "The streak was great while it was going on," Albers said. "It was awesome to have those two nights. They're pretty special, and who knows if that will ever happen again." The 27-year-old Saskatchewan native's third evening would get better, but not until after it got worse. The White Sox answered a three-run Twins third with a four-spot of their own capped by Dayan Viciedo's 390-foot home run over the left-center field fence. Avisail Garcia's line-drive double down the left-field line brought home Adam Dunn, who fell behind 0-2 but roped the third straight sinker he saw for a two-base hit of his own. One more effective pitch, and Albers makes it out of the decisive inning unscathed. "I thought Albers hung in pretty damn good after just one bad inning," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "You look back at that, and if he makes one pitch, he's out of that inning. "But he didn't, and it ended up costing him." Facing another notable lefty with a bit more experience by the name of Chris Sale -- who also pitched seven innings and counterbalanced nine hits with eight strikeouts -- Minnesota was unable to bail out Albers more than once. The Twins certainly tried. In addition to three double plays turned at second base behind Albers, Ryan Doumit crushed a homer to right field in his second game back from the seven-day concussion list. That brought Minnesota (54-67) within a run at 6-5 in the bottom of the eighth, but De Aza responded with a two-run shot of his own against reliever Casey Fien. Chicago (48-74) took a 2-1 series lead and has won eight of its past 13 games. The Twins still maintain a comfortable yet dubious lead over the White Sox for fourth place in the five-team American League Central Division. Albers' second home start -- against a two-time All-Star in Sale (9-11, 2.78 ERA), no less -- drew a hefty crowd for a late-August game between teams with long-crushed playoff hopes. Albers went 8 13 innings in his scoreless debut against streaking Kansas City on Aug. 6, then wowed Target Field with his team's only complete-game shutout this season, against Cleveland, six days later. The elusive breaking ball and changeup tosses that earned him those two victories were on display in the middle innings Saturday, as he faced the minimum in the fifth, sixth and seventh stanzas. By then, it was too late. "I was able to catch the breaks those first two nights, and tonight didn't quite catch as many," said Albers, whose name quickly circulated around Canada last week and had him answering many media requests between starts. "Things change, and then you make one bad pitch, and you pay for it." A couple balls lost in the Minneapolis twilight didn't help matters, either. Dunn's insurance run-scoring double in the eighth against Caleb Thielbar plopped down in front of left fielder Josh Willingham, who said he "just didn't see it" in the setting sun. A .310 hitter at Target Field, Dunn finished 3-for-4 on the day and helped put an end to a short but enjoyable week of perfection for Albers. Lesson learned, the pitcher said. "I didn't feel bad mentally out there, just a little out of rhythm," said Albers, who's now 2-1 with a 1.85 ERA. "Pitching's a fine-tuned skill. If you're a little bit off, the ball's gonna sail a little bit, you're gonna fall behind, and those guys can obviously swing it over there. They get paid for a reason, and they're pretty good. "You've got to be on top of your game, or you're gonna get hurt." Follow Phil Ervin on Twitter
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Kevin Durant says he never told Russell Westbrook he was staying in OKC

God Shammgod hired by Mavericks as player development assistant

Soccer player terminates contract after being attacked by stray dogs

Todd Bowles confirms Ryan Fitzpatrick is Jets starting QB: ‘It’s his job’

Carmelo Anthony shocked Dwyane Wade left Miami for Chicago

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: David Lee signs with the Spurs

Craig Sager to miss Olympics while undergoing bone marrow transplant

Jarryd Hayne wouldn’t have retired if NFL had minor league system

Draymond Green: ‘Me and LeBron are friends’

Pierre-Paul won't need to wear club on hand this season

Report: Four cities remain in contention to host 2017 NBA ASG

Denard Robinson blames falling asleep at stoplight for pond crash

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Hue Jackson: Browns will give Josh Gordon a fresh start

Diamondbacks nearing Daniel Hudson trade

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

What would George Costanza have traded to get Bonds and Griffey?

Gabby Douglas can make USA Gymnastics history at Olympics

Week 3 will determine the Big Ten's reputation this season

Cam Talbot thinks the Oilers are close to making the playoffs

The new era of WWE SmackDown has liftoff

Vlade Divac: Cousins ‘most dominant player in the world’

Wild offer to make Prince's 'Let's Go Crazy' new goal song

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker