Entering Saturday night's outing against the White Sox with 17 1/3 scoreless innings, Albers' joyride hit a massive speed bump. He coughed up a run in the first, then allowed his first long ball -- a three-run homer to Dayan Viciedo -- as the big blow in a four-run fourth inning for the visitors, who claimed an 8-5 victory over the Twins.
"Fourth inning, I believe [Albers] had two outs, 0-2 count on [Adam] Dunn and ended up giving up four runs after that," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He needed to make one more pitch in the inning."
"You gotta be able to find a way to put that inning away," Albers said. "This game comes down to about four or five pitches and a couple plays. That's how it goes some nights."
Viciedo has three homers against the Twins this season, with all three blasts coming at Target Field.
"[Albers] moves the ball well," Vicideo said through interpreter and White Sox coach Lino Diaz. "You can't really go out of the zone or feel desperate with him. You've got to pick and choose the pitches you're going to hit on him."
In the eighth, left fielder Josh Willingham lost Dunn's fly ball in the Target Field lights, allowing it to drop for a double to score Chicago's sixth run.
"I couldn't see it," Willingham said. "I promise you, if I could've seen it, I would've caught it."
The magnitude of that play wasn't fully realized until the bottom of the inning, when Ryan Doumit blasted a two-run homer -- his first since July 13 -- to pull the Twins as close as they would come.
"It's dusk. If you're down on the field level, you can't see it," Gardenhire said. "The ball went up and it disappeared from everybody in the dugout. As soon as it was hit, we knew we were in trouble.
"Some unfortunate stuff. What you gonna do? You lose the ball. If you can't see it, it's hard to catch."
Chicago's Alejandro De Aza answered with his own two-run homer in the ninth off reliever Casey Fien for a three-run margin.
The Twins wounded White Sox starter Chris Sale early, but they weren't able to deliver the knockout blow.
Trailing 1-0 in the third, Minnesota got to Sale for the only time. Joe Mauer plated two runs with his 34th double. Willingham followed with a double to left-center to score Mauer.
"We got some runs on [Sale]," Gardenhire said. "That [third] inning, we hit about 9,000 feet of fly balls out there that didn't go out of the ballpark. He hung in there pretty deep in the game, too, with a lot of pitches."
Albers threw up three scoreless frames after the fourth inning to keep the Twins within striking distance. But Sale scattered five hits after the third to help secure his ninth victory.
"Early on, I was struggling with my command, falling behind a lot of hitters," Albers said. "I just didn't have a lot of rhythm. The first three, four hitters I had a tough time hitting the outside corner. I had a lot of three-ball counts tonight. That makes for a tough day. Luckily after the home run, I was able to settle down a little bit and find a little bit of rhythm."
"Well, we won. So anytime you come back with a 'W' you always feel good about it," Sale said. "Obviously, there's some things I'd want to change, especially in that third inning, but at the end of the day, a win's a win. The music's playing. People are smiling. We're good to go."