Twins 5, White Sox 2
After watching teammates Kyle Lohse and Brad Radke get roughed up in consecutive losses to the Chicago White Sox, Santana stopped the skid with 11 strikeouts in seven innings to help Minnesota avoid getting swept by its division rivals with a 5-2 victory Sunday night.
“You don’t want to get swept by your rivals,” said Santana, who signed a four-year, $40 million deal in the offseason after winning the AL Cy Young award last year. “It’s early in the season, but every game counts.”
Hunter had four RBIs, which was more than enough for Santana (2-0), who scattered seven hits and made Chicago hitters look foolish most of the night. During one stretch spanning the end of the third to the end of the sixth innings, Santana got eight of the 10 outs on strikeouts.
“Take a little bit of Santana and Hunter and get some sleep and you’ll be better in the morning,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Carl Everett was 2-for-3 with an RBI for the White Sox. Everett went 6-for-11 with six RBIs in the series and is batting .341 with 27 RBIs in 164 career at-bats against Minnesota.
“If you told me that we’d come to Minnesota and win two of three, I’d take that every day,” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said.
Chicago starter Mark Buehrle (1-1) was outstanding in his first outing of the season, giving up just two hits in eight innings against Cleveland on opening day, but the Twins got to him on Sunday. He gave up five runs and seven hits in seven innings—including the big blow by Hunter in the third. It was the first time a White Sox starter gave up more than three runs this season.
Buehrle’s string of 17 straight scoreless innings dating to last season ended in the third.
Luis Rivas singled, then hustled to second on a flyout by Shannon Stewart. Rivas scored two batters later when a liner by Matthew LeCroy glanced off diving third baseman Joe Crede’s glove for an RBI single.
Hunter then turned on a pitch from Buehrle for a three-run homer to left that never appeared to get more than 20 feet off the ground, giving the Twins a 4-2 lead.
“I made one mistake—to Hunter,” Buehrle said. “If I could just have that one pitch back. That killed me.”
It was Hunter’s second home run of the season, and he added an RBI groundout in the fifth.
“We needed that,” Hunter said. “We just couldn’t let those guys sweep us this early.”
While Buehrle’s rough outing was uncharacteristic of the White Sox starters this season, so was Santana’s sharp performance for his team.
The Twins’ starters have struggled early on—even Santana gave up four runs in the first inning of his previous start, an 8-4 win at Seattle.
The Twins have been outscored 11-0 in the first inning this season, and the White Sox again got on the board first when Pablo Ozuna scored on a sacrifice fly by Everett.
Just as he did in his first game against Seattle, Santana settled down after a shaky first inning. He allowed just one more run in an overpowering performance before giving way to Juan Rincon, who worked a hitless eighth.
“When he gets rolling, you’re just trying to put the ball in play,” White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “We had some good chances, but just couldn’t do it. That’s why he’s the Cy Young winner.”
Hunter reached on an error in the eighth after popping a ball straight up in the air. Pierzynski, a former Twins player, lost the ball in the Metrodome roof and pitcher Cliff Politte got there late and dropped it. … Still experiencing dizziness four days after he was hit in the head by a pitch, Twins 1B Justin Morneau will seek another opinion on Monday. A CT scan in Seattle shortly after Wednesday’s beaning showed no damage, but Morneau has been unable to do any baseball activities since. … Guillen said backup C Chris Widger will start Monday against Cleveland to give Pierzynski two straight days of rest. The White Sox are off Tuesday. … It was the 15th time in Santana’s career that he has struck out at least 10 batters. … The Twins are in the middle of 19 straight games against AL Central opponents.