The first-place Chicago White Sox open a six-game road trip on Monday night in Minneapolis against the team they’re trying to dethrone in the American League Central, the two-time defending champion Minnesota Twins.
Chicago holds a 2 1/2-game lead over the Cleveland Indians following a dramatic, 4-3 ninth-inning comeback victory over Kansas City on Sunday. The White Sox swept a three-game series with the Twins, who are 10 1/2 games out of first place, last week.
Left-hander Dallas Keuchel (2-1, 4.53 ERA) will take the mound for Chicago and will be opposed by left-hander J.A Happ (2-1, 4.26 ERA) in a pitching rematch of last Wednesday night’s game at Guaranteed Rate Field won by the White Sox, 13-8.
Both starters struggled in that contest. Keuchel, who is 5-3 with a 3.91 ERA in nine career appearances and eight starts against the Twins, got the win despite yielding six runs on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings.
Meanwhile, Happ, who is 4-4 with a 6.34 ERA in nine career starts against the White Sox, allowed nine runs on nine hits in just 3 1/3 innings to pick up his first loss of the season.
The White Sox, who finish their road trip with three games against the New York Yankees, earned a split of their four-game series with Kansas City by scoring two runs in the bottom of the ninth to pull out a 4-3 victory on Sunday afternoon.
Reigning AL MVP Jose Abreu, who left Friday’s Game 1 loss to the Royals with a bruised left knee and facial lacerations following a violent collision with Hunter Dozier on the first base line, scored the winning run on a wild pitch when he avoided the diving tag of catcher Cam Gallagher.
Abreu, who came back to homer in a 5-1 loss on Saturday, had two more hits on Sunday.
“We were talking about all his attributes,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said of Abreu. “Now you’re going to have to add outstanding, instinctive base running because that was a great play.”
“It was a wonderful win,” added La Russa. “It could have been a costly win. I know one thing, he was rubbing his kneecap where he’s sore. So he hit it pretty hard. But you can bet a fortune he’s playing tomorrow in Minnesota.”
La Russa was asked if he ever gets tired of talking about Abreu to the media.
“This guy is a great player,” La Russa said. “What’s the highest compliment I can give him? He stands right next to Albert (Pujols) for me.”
Minnesota, which has the worst record (13-25) in the majors, is just 2-9 over its past 11 games and hobbles in after another head-scratching defeat on Sunday against the Oakland Athletics.
The Twins tied the game, 6-6, with two out in the bottom of the eighth on a two-run homer by Andrelton Simmons. But Oakland took advantage of two huge misplays by Minnesota in the top of the ninth to push across the winning run.
Ramon Laureano singled with one out but Matt Olson followed with a hard comebacker to reliever Taylor Rogers for what looked like an inning-ending double play. Rogers whirled and threw to Josh Donaldson covering second but the ball went off of Donaldson’s glove and into center field for an error, sending Laureano to third. Rogers bounced back to strike out Matt Chapman but the third strike got away from catcher Mitch Garver, allowing Laureano to score.
“It’s tough. It’s tough,” Simmons said. “It’s always tough to lose a game, especially late. We’ve just got to be better. We’ve got to be more sound with our defense especially. When it’s not going good, you’ve got to make sure you do every little detail well.”
–Field Level Media