Twins rally to knock off White Sox
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins weren’t expected to be playoff contenders when the season started and any hope of the postseason had seemingly faded away when Minnesota lost six of its final seven games in August and traded away two pitchers.
The Chicago White Sox witnessed first-hand on Thursday what the rest of the American League is learning: the Twins aren’t going away quietly.
Max Kepler was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded as Minnesota completed a two-run, ninth-inning comeback in a 5-4 win against Chicago on Thursday.
“They come in all shapes and forms, but a walk-off’s a walk-off,” Kepler said. “We’ll take it.”
Alen Hanson hit a solo homer off Twins closer Matt Belisle in the top of the ninth to break a tie, but Minnesota rallied against new White Sox closer Juan Minaya (2-2).
Ehire Adrianza led off the inning with a single and Brian Dozier walked before Eddie Rosario tied the game with an RBI single. Joe Mauer was walked to load the bases. With two outs, Minaya hit Kepler’s back foot with a pitch to plate Dozier for the winning run.
“I tried to get out of the way, but I would have regret it if I actually did get out of the way,” Kepler said. “Some guys were telling me, ‘Good thing you didn’t get out of the way.’ Otherwise, we would have been unhappy about it.”
Belisle (1-2) surrendered the homer and a walk, while striking out three batters in a non-save situation. Minnesota (70-63) won its fourth straight game in sweeping Chicago, and maintained its spot as the second wild-card team in the AL.
It was the Twins’ first win by a walk-off hit by pitch since May 1, 1996 when current manager Paul Molitor was a player and got hit in the bottom of the 10th against Kansas City, a win Molitor said he doesn’t remember. The victory was Minnesota’s 20th in the month of August, the 11th time in team history it has won 20 games in a calendar month and the first since May 2015.
“I think it is a little bit symbolic of some of the things that we’ve been able to do here during a good stretch for our team,” Molitor said.
Minaya blew his first save in four chances for the White Sox, surrendering two runs on two hits and two walks. Hanson hit his third homer in 55 games for Chicago, which lost for the fourth time in five games.
“He got a pitch that he could drive, was able to put it out over the right-field wall,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “I wish we would have been able to score a few more runs for him, just wasn’t meant to be.”
Both veteran starters, Bartolo Colon and Miguel Gonzalez, were allowing hits but keeping the opposition from any big innings.
Colon gave up at least 10 hits for the fourth time this season and the most he’s allowed in nine starts with Minnesota. But the right-hander has escaped trouble despite traffic on the bases over the past month.
Colon entered the game with 37 hits and nine walks allowed in 33 2/3 innings in August, but he held a 3.20 ERA over his five starts in the month. He finished six innings with 10 hits allowed, three runs and a season-high eight strikeouts.
“I think the most important (thing) is when you keep fighting,” Colon said of his team’s comeback. “Sometimes you’re going to fall behind but we’re able to come back in the games and win these games. As a team, that’s important.”
Gonzalez had been on his own steady run with a 1.29 ERA and .204 opponent batting average in his previous four starts. Gonzalez yielded three runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out five.
“I wasn’t as crisp as last outing,” Gonzalez said. “I was falling behind a couple hitters, but what helped me was early in the game they were swinging right away and then after that they were pretty patient.”
NOTES: Minnesota got some good news on CF Byron Buxton, who left Wednesday’s game with a hand injury. Buxton had an MRI exam Thursdaywith the team fearing an injury to the hamate bone. But the test showed no fracture and Buxton is considered day-to-day with a bone contusion in his hand. ... Chicago 1B Jose Abreu and SS Tim Anderson were held out of the lineup on Thursday for what are considered minor injuries. Abreu is dealing with an injury to his right elbow while Anderson has a hamstring injury. Manager Rick Renteria said he expects both to return on Friday against Tampa Bay. ... Twins 3B Miguel Sano continues to make slow progress in his recovery from a left shin stress reaction. Sano was leaving the stadium for more tests before Thursday’s game. ... Minnesota LHP Adalberto Mejia had a strong rehab outing Wednesday and manager Paul Molitor said the reports were encouraging and Mejia’s velocity was up again. He’ll make another rehab start Monday. ... Renteria said INF Yoan Moncada is still resting his right shin contusion and the team will discuss his return to baseball activities when it returns to Chicago.