Ryan Jeffers hit a two-out RBI single in the 12th inning to cap a late rally by the Twins that secured a 5-4 victory over the White Sox on Sunday.
“We’re going to use our guys to try to win a ballgame,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “That’s what they’re there for.”
Jesse Scholtens (1-3) loaded the bases with no outs before enticing Christian Vázquez to hit a 2-0 fastball into a shortstop-to-home-to-first double play. That left a runner on third for Jeffers, who lifted the Twins (53-48) to a three-game lead on Cleveland in the AL Central - their largest in more than five weeks.
“When we’re not getting the runs, we’re kind of starting to believe in ourselves that we can come back and we can get hits on whoever’s out there,” Jeffers said.
Nineteen players contributed, including Willi Castro and Joey Gallo. They were out of the starting lineup all series because of conjunctivitis, commonly known as pinkeye.
When Vázquez entered, Jeffers had no backup catcher. He even took a foul ball off the chin in the 11th, giving the Twins a bit of a scare.
Castro delivered a pinch-hit RBI double to spark a three-run ninth inning. Gallo, who scored the tying run in the 10th to keep the game going, tried a drag bunt in the 11th that sailed in the air for an easy popup to end the inning. His vision wasn't clear enough for a regular at-bat.
“The fans weren’t too happy about that one. Now they understand why I was doing it,” Gallo said.
Castro hadn't been in the dugout all series until he got the call to hit.
“That’s when I saw the sunlight and, yeah, it was a little weird. But then everything was fine when I got there,” Castro said.
White Sox reliever Kendall Graveman allowed the first three batters to reach in the ninth. Carlos Correa hit a sacrifice fly for the first out to make it 3-2. Then Alex Kirilloff hit the tying RBI double with two outs.
Emilio Pagán (5-1) pitched a perfect 12th for the victory, stranding the automatic runner at third in his latest solid appearance following a rough 1 1/2 seasons to start his Twins career.
Tim Anderson put the White Sox in front with a two-out RBI double in the 10th, but Gallo scampered home when rookie right fielder Oscar Colás made a running catch of a shallow popup. Colás fell and, after scrambling to his feet, threw late to the plate.
Zach Remillard hit his first major league home run and had two RBIs. Eloy Jiménez also homered for the White Sox against Bailey Ober, who logged his seventh straight quality start of six innings or more and three earned runs or less.
The White Sox scored first in all three games. They were 4 for 28 with runners in scoring position.
“We’ve got to find a way to have that killer mentality to where we’re going to put people away,” manager Pedro Grifol said.
ON THE MOVE?
The White Sox wasted five scoreless innings by Lucas Giolito, who could be dealt ahead of the Aug. 1 trade deadline.
“It’s not really on the forefront of my mind when it comes to when I’m here and I'm getting ready to pitch,” said Giolito, who had nine strikeouts to reach 1,004 for his career. “I’m just going to do my job like any other year, any other day.”
Jiménez has been playing through a sore left groin muscle as the designated hitter despite only being able to run at about 60 percent of his regular speed. Grifol said he can't afford to sit Jiménez, with first baseman Andrew Vaughn sidelined by a bone bruise in his left foot for the fourth straight game.
White Sox: RHP Michael Kopech (4-8, 4.29 ERA) pitches Tuesday to start a two-game series at home against the Cubs, who send RHP Kyle Hendricks (3-4, 3.38 ERA) to the mound.
Twins: RHP Kenta Maeda (2-5, 5.10 ERA) starts Monday, beginning a three-game series against Seattle. RHP Luis Castillo (6-7, 3.04 ERA) takes the mound for the Mariners.
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