Twins 5, White Sox 3
MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—A little more than a week ago, the Chicago White Sox seemed to be in control of the AL Central.
Now they can only hope the Minnesota Twins collapse.
After losing two straight in Chicago last week and falling two games back in the division race, the Twins have won five in a row against Chicago in a span of eight days to move 3 1/2 games ahead.
“After we lost two there, it could’ve got real ugly,” Twins starter Kyle Lohse said. “We knew we were in a tough situation. I think that really made us look at ourselves like, ‘We’ve got to keep going.”’
The defending AL Central champions have won six straight overall and eight of nine.
“There’s still time left,” White Sox manager Jerry Manuel said. “But we’ve got to run the table.”
Just about. Chicago plays seven games against Kansas City, which is 4 1/2 games out, and three against the Yankees.
Minnesota has nine games left—seven against Detroit, which is on pace to set a record for the most losses in a season since 1900.
Lohse (14-11) worked 6 2-3 innings for the victory, leaving to a standing ovation from the crowd of 39,948. J.C. Romero got the last out in the seventh.
In the three games, the White Sox managed just seven runs and four extra-base hits.
“What can I say? It’s demoralizing,” center fielder Carl Everett said.
The Twins have been in several tough situations this season, after losing 22 of 28 before the All-Star break to finish the first half 7 1/2 games out.
Three straight losses to Cleveland in mid-August put them four games back, prompting manager Ron Gardenhire to say that some players didn’t “have a clue.”
Now the Twins, who have the best record in the majors in the second half, are playing their best baseball of the year—at a perfect time.
“We can’t afford to let down,” Gardenhire said. “We have to come back with the same enthusiasm.”
Colon (14-13) had a streak of three straight complete games snapped. He gave up seven hits, five runs—four earned—and three walks, striking out only one in six innings.
A night after Everett said the Twins seemed like the hungrier team and two hours after Manuel addressed the club in a closed-door meeting, the White Sox took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first.
The problems began when Colon walked Shannon Stewart to begin the bottom half. Two outs later, Jones—one of the game’s most aggressive hitters (he has only 21 walks this year)—came to bat.
Colon, surprisingly, threw a strike on the first pitch that Jones smacked an estimated 436 feet into the upper deck in right field to tie the game.
Doug Mientkiewicz doubled with two outs in the third. Then Jones, batting cleanup for the eighth time this season, homered to center to make it 4-2 and further deflate Chicago’s chances of playing in October.
The Twins took advantage of two errors by the White Sox to go up by three.
Michael Ryan singled and went to third on a wild pickoff throw by Colon, scoring on a suicide squeeze attempt by Cristian Guzman. Colon picked up the bunt and shoveled it to catcher Miguel Olivo, who had it pop out of his glove as Ryan stopped about 5 feet short of the plate on his slide. Ryan then reached around with his hand to touch home.
Frank Thomas, 1-for-12 in this series, hit a high fly to left that Stewart caught with his back against the wall in the sixth. Thomas clapped his hands together in disgust as he returned to the dugout.
The Twins were disappointed Thursday that results of an angiogram on 3B coach Al Newman were inconclusive. Newman will have to undergo more tests before he’ll be allowed to leave the hospital, but “his spirits are good,” Gardenhire said. Newman suffered a brain hemorrhage last week in Chicago. … Brian Daubach started at 1B for Paul Konerko, who is 1-for-29 in his career against Lohse. … It was the eighth multihomer games of Jones’ career. … Theseries drew 113,173 fans. … The Twins took the season series 10-9.