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White Sox 8, Twins 3: Andrus’ blast puts game away

Lucas Giolito finishes his season with an excellent start

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Chicago White Sox
Going deep: Elvis Andrus hit a three-run homer to cap off the South Siders’ second four-run inning of the game.
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

The White Sox (81-80) used a pair of four-run innings to defeat the Twins (77-84) for the second time in as many days.

The game got off to an ominous start, when Luis Arráez hit a routine chopper to first, but José Abreu made an uncharacteristic fielding error. As a result, Arráez made it to first despite dealing with a hamstring injury that caused him to limp all the way there. However, starter Lucas Giolito had no interest in letting his team fall behind early. Giolito got Carlos Correa to ground into a 4-6-3 double play right after the error.

The White Sox nearly got on the board with two outs in the bottom of the first, when Abreu launched his 40th double of the season. That kept the inning alive for Eloy Jiménez, who drew a five-pitch walk. Abreu and Jiménez advanced 90 feet on a wild pitch, but Gavin Sheets struck out to end the threat.

The second inning opened in a bizarre way, as control eluded Giolito, who hit Nick Gordon with a slider on the second pitch of the inning. The next batter, José Miranda, was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Giolito missed inside with an 0-2 fastball, and the pitch appeared to hit Miranda’s hand before bouncing up to hit his face. Miranda exited the game, and Jermaine Palacios replaced him on base.

After a fielder’s choice at second put runners on the corners with one down, Jake Cave hit a sacrifice fly on a deep fly ball to left. But that was the only run the Twins scored, and after two, they had a 1-0 lead.

In the third, though, the White Sox came through with a nice effort against Twins starter Josh Winder. After a scoreless, 10-pitch inning by Giolito, Elvis Andrus singled to center with one out in the bottom half. Andrus stole second, and Yoán Moncada took advantage of the RBI opportunity with a double to right-center. Abreu got hit by a pitch, and Jiménez hammered an RBI double into the left field corner to put the White Sox ahead, 2-1. Sheets continued the hit parade with a two-run single to pad the lead and chase Winder from the game.

The fourth inning was also terrific for the White Sox offense. Yasmani Grandal led off with a single against Aaron Sanchez. Despite that good start, the big inning could have been prevented if Gordon had fielded a grounder by Romy González cleanly. Instead, Gordon’s error resulted in the White Sox having two on with nobody out. Adam Engel drove in the first run of the inning with an RBI double, and the White Sox still had two in scoring position with no outs. That brought up Elvis Andrus, who caught a break with a 2-2 pitch that caught the zone but was ruled ball three. On the very next pitch, Andrus put the game out of reach with a three-run blast. The back-to-back four-run innings for the White Sox made it an 8-1 ballgame.

The Twins got one run back in the sixth, when Giolito issued back-to-back walks to a pair of Hamiltons (Caleb and old friend Billy). Gordon followed with an RBI single to trim Minnesota’s deficit to six. Still, it was an outstanding performance to finish the season for Giolito. Much credit to him, because he did not fold down the stretch; in September, Giolito had a 3.71 ERA and a 3.11 FIP. Tonight, Giolito only allowed two runs on two hits in seven innings.

After the fourth, the White Sox did not score, but they did not need to. Considering how well Giolito pitched, the lead was safe. Jake Diekman pitched a scoreless eighth, and José Ruiz allowed one run in the ninth on a Palacios homer. That blast was not nearly enough, as the South Siders prevailed by five.

The win guaranteed that the White Sox will finish at least .500 this season. Game No. 162 is scheduled to begin at 3:10 p.m. Central on Wednesday. As usual, NBC Sports Chicago and WMVP 1000 AM will cover the game. Davis Martin and Louie Varland are the probable starters, and after tonight’s game Miguel Cairo promised an unusual lineup to end the season.

As I sign off from my last recap of the season, thank you for reading South Side Sox. While the team did not bring us the results we wanted, as always, it has been a pleasure writing for this great community.