The Chicago White Sox set the tone for their most important series of the season with a commanding victory over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night. The Sox offense got the scoring started early and broke the game open in the fourth. Johnny Cueto pitched yet another quality start and earned the win.
Set The Tone
The White Sox jumped ahead early against Twins starter Sonny Gray. Tim Anderson got things going with a base hit to lead off the game. He came around to score on an RBI double by Jose Abreu.
Andrew Vaughn’s ground ball up the middle took a fortuitous bounce off the second base bag, skipping into left field and allowing Abreu to score.
Chicago carried a 2-1 lead into the fourth inning, which set up an early “dagger” moment. With one out, Josh Harrison reached base on a line drive that caromed off of Gray. The Twins’ righty appeared rattled in the aftermath but remained on the mound. Minnesota skipper Rocco Baldelli elected to keep his starter in the game and Gray lost command of his pitches. Seby Zavala followed with a single up the middle.
Anderson walked to load the bases before Yoan Moncada grounded into a fielder’s choice that cut Harrison down at home. Just as the Twins were on the brink of escaping the inning, Luis Robert delivered a two-out grand slam on a rocket to the second deck in left field. It was undoubtedly the highlight of the game as it broke things open for the White Sox.
But they didn’t stop there.
Luis Robert added an RBI single in the sixth that scored Anderson. Abreu then hit a sacrifice fly to score Moncada. In the seventh inning, Andrew Vaughn launched a solo homer that traveled 444 feet. With the rout fully on in the ninth, Zavala hit a three-run shot off Twins’ left fielder Nick Gordon.
Cueto Does it Again
Johnny Cueto notched his ninth quality start of the season despite allowing frequent traffic on the bases. The righty stranded two runners in the first inning. He surrendered his only run the next inning on a Gio Urshela RBI double that plated Jose Miranda from first. But Cueto got out of the inning with some help from AJ Pollock. Luis Arraez hit into a flyout double play when Pollock gunned down Urshela at home plate.
Cueto allowed a leadoff triple to Byron Buxton in the third but retired the next three Minnesota batters to escape the threat. The veteran stranded two more in the fifth inning.
Cueto’s pitch count rose as a result, but Tony La Russa sent him out to pitch the sixth. He responded by striking out the side to close out yet another strong outing. Cueto finished with a final line of 6 IP, 7 H, ER, 2 BB, 5 K (118 pitches).
The White Sox relief corps continued a nice stretch of pitching, allowing just one run in the final three frames.
The Chicago White Sox bullpen’s scoreless innings streak ended at 21.1 innings when Jose Ruiz surrendered a solo homer to Kyle Garlick in the ninth inning.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli chose not to challenge the close play at the plate in the second when Pollock threw out Urshela from left field.
Eloy Jimenez’s MRI revealed “nothing drastic” and he could play this weekend in Minnesota.
The teams got into a bit of a scuffle after the final out when Sox catcher Seby Zavala exchanged words with Twins outfielder Gilberto Celestino.
What’s On Tap Next?
Michael Kopech will take the mound for the Chicago White Sox on Friday. Kopech is 0-4 in his last five starts and his ERA has risen by almost a run and a half over that span. The Minnesota Twins will send lefty Drew Smeltzer to the mound. NBC Sports Chicago will air the contest starting at 7:10 PM CT and Sox On Tap will have the postgame show.
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