If the White Sox’s goal is to bury the Minnesota Twins in the bottom of the standings by the end of May, then taking a series sweep out of their first meeting is a good place to start. It wasn’t a third consecutive blowout win, but the White Sox (22-13) never trailed in a 4-2 victory on Thursday to notch their sixth straight victory.
The White Sox now hold a 10-game lead over the Twins (12-23, .343), who fell to last place behind Detroit (13-24, .351) by percentage points.
This time, the White Sox didn’t let the Twins take an early lead. Tim Anderson homered on Michael Pineda’s first pitch, a 103.7 mph missile over the left field fence.
In the third inning, the White Sox doubled the lead after Jake Lamb hit his first home run on the South Side. It partly made up for defensive miscues that extended Lance Lynn’s early innings; Lamb botched a potential double-play ball at first base in the second inning, and then dropped Anderson’s throw that would’ve ended the third. Lamb was replaced by Andrew Vaughn in the sixth inning. Zack Collins also was called for the White Sox’s fifth catcher interference this season, as the team committed three errors in the win.
While Anderson went 2-for-4 and consistently hit the ball hard against Pineda, the White Sox’s scoring only consisted of solo shots until the sixth inning. Pineda exited after issuing back-to-back walks to start the frame. Facing reliever Hansel Robles, Vaughn’s sharp single drove in a run to extend the lead to 3-1.
Pineda struck out seven batters in 5 1⁄3 innings, but gave up three earned runs on four hits and three walks. He took the loss, but the Twins had opportunities to give him the win or no-decision.
Despite the White Sox owning a 7-5 advantage in the hit column, the Twins had plenty of opportunities to take control of the game — but Minnesota stranded 12 runners on base.
They had a two-out rally in the fourth inning, as Trevor Larnach doubled, Mitch Garver walked and Larnach scored on Lynn’s throwing error to cut the deficit to 2-1. A dropped third strike allowed Willians Astudillo to reach base, but Billy Hamilton kept the lead intact with a web gem on Kyle Garlick’s fly ball.
Another two-out double by Jorge Polanco sparked another bases-loaded rally by the Twins in the fifth inning, too. However, after intentionally walking Nelson Cruz and walking Larnach, Lynn battled for an eight-pitch strikeout of Garver, and then let out an emphatic scream.
Lynn limited the Twins to two hits and three walks, while striking out nine batters over his five-inning start.
After Matt Foster’s 1-2-3 sixth inning, the bullpen once again provided strenuous situations. The Twins continued to threaten to take the lead the entire game, but never could find a timely hit.
Garrett Crochet walked back-to-back batters with one out in the seventh frame. With the White Sox clinging onto a 3-1 lead and Ethan Katz taking a mound visit, Crochet proceeded to strike out Cruz and Larnach to end the frame.
Max Kepler homered to right field to cut the White Sox lead to 3-2 in the eight inning, and then José Ruiz gave up a pair of singles.
Despite throwing 28 pitches on Wednesday, Liam Hendriks entered the game in need of a five-out save. Hamilton’s speed was crucial in a running catch in left-center field, and then Anderson and Yoán Moncada nearly collided on a routine pop fly that represented the third out. Hendriks closed out the sweep and five-out save with a perfect 1 2⁄3 innings — one of his most impressive outings of the season.
And it wouldn’t truly be a White Sox win without Yermín Mercedes leaving a mark. In his only at-bat, he laced a two-out, RBI single to center field to extend the White Sox’s lead to 4-2 in the eighth inning. It was the rare opportunity in the game when the White Sox had runners in scoring position, and Mercedes capitalized — something the Twins failed to do all afternoon.
The White Sox have a split doubleheader at 2:10 p.m. and 7:10 p.m. Friday against Kansas City, which has lost 11 straight games after being swept by Detroit. Ashley Sanders has the opener and Colleen Sullivan the nightcap, and I’ll provide both games of Six Pack coverage.