Castro’s three-run birthday blast helps Twins beat White Sox

It's difficult to know whether the Twins have straightened themselves out after four difficult weeks of ugly baseball, or if the White Sox are just their favorite pushover. Either way, they have plenty of reasons to be grateful.

The Twins piled up a season-high 13 hits on Wednesday night, put runners on base in every inning but one, and beat Chicago for the 10th time in their past 11 meetings, 6-3 at Target Field.

While the Twins have put together their first three-game winning streak of the season, the White Sox dropped to 3-21, tying them with the 2003 Tigers and 2022 Reds for the second-worst 24-game start in major league history, behind only the 1-23 Orioles of 1988.

"Playing a team like this at this moment is the best thing that could happen for us. To just play free and play loose," said Ryan Jeffers, who collected a walk and a pair of infield hits in his first career game as a leadoff hitter. "They're still a big-league club, they've still got really good players, but I think it's coming at the right time."

Couldn't come at a better time for Willi Castro, who became the 22nd Twins player ever to hit a home run on his birthday, turning 27 with a three-run shot into the left-field bleachers. He later doubled, part of the Twins' five extra-base hits, giving them 16 for the first three games of the series.

The series wraps up Thursday afternoon, though the Twins undoubtedly would like to convince the White Sox to stick around for the weekend, too.

"It feels good to battle in some at-bats, put some balls in play even if they're not hit hard, and then find some grass," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "They give us an opportunity to run the bases and make some things happen. That is great."

BOXSCORE: Twins 6, Chicago White Sox 3

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Joe Ryan was the recipient of all this offensive support; staked to a four-run lead after Castro's homer, the righthander gave half of it back with a nagging irritant: home runs. White Sox outfielder Kevin Pillar launched one 379 feet to left field to lead off the third inning, and catcher Korey Lee followed later in the inning with a 422-foot blast into the upper deck in left-center.

Ryan gave up another run in the fifth inning as part of a relatively rare play: A steal of home. Braden Shewmake bunted his way on against a shifted-to-the-middle Twins defense, moved to second base when Lee walked, then stole third as Danny Mendick batted. When the count reached 3-2, Lee took off for second base as Mendick looked at strike three from Ryan.

Catcher Christian Vázquez threw to second base, hoping to complete an inning-ending double play. But Lee beat the throw, and Shewmake took the opportunity to race home with Chicago's third run.

It was the first steal of home the Twins have allowed since last July 22, when then-White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson scored on a similar throw-to-second decision by Vázquez.

"At that point in the game, we're going to throw through. Vasky is going to do what we [signaled] him to do, he's just following our orders," Baldelli said. "That's not on him, that's on me. [The White Sox] decided to play good, aggressive baseball."

But it couldn't spoil the Twins' euphoric mood, not with their first three-game winning streak of the season.

"I can't lie, it's … great to get some run support and have guys throwing the ball well," Ryan said after earning his first win of the year. "Those are great things to build on."