Losing two of three games this week to a fellow first-place club somehow equaled a near-plus for the Minnesota Twins.
Although the visiting New York Yankees took their American League showdown series from the Twins, Minnesota is poised to move beyond the outcome as it visits the Chicago White Sox on Thursday night.
“If you lose, there is some frustration,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “But we can also take a ton of positives about what we see out there.”
Yes, even from the Yankees’ rousing comeback victory on Tuesday, Baldelli admitted. Trailing 8-2 after four innings, New York rallied for a 14-12 victory in 10 innings, with ex-Twins outfielder Aaron Hicks diving headlong onto the warning track to rob Minnesota’s Max Kepler of a walk-off extra-base hit to end the game.
The final three innings featured five lead changes or ties.
“If that’s not the game of the year so far, I don’t know what it would be,” Minnesota right-hander Kyle Gibson said. “Two really, really good teams, two really, really good offenses, and two teams that never think they’re out of the game. … That’s what playoff baseball looks like; two teams not giving up. Hopefully, the fans enjoyed it and hopefully they realize we’re never out of a game.”
Minnesota nearly returned the favor Wednesday, cutting an early six-run deficit to two before losing 10-7.
Twins right-hander Jose Berrios (8-5, 2.96 ERA) will look to re-establish himself Thursday against the White Sox. After pitching at least six innings in seven successive starts from May 24 to June 28 — a run bookended by starts vs. the White Sox — Berrios has not lasted longer than 5 2/3 innings in three outings since.
Still, that hasn’t translated to disaster. Berrios is 0-1 with a 3.45 ERA over his three July starts. Facing the Oakland Athletics on Saturday, Berrios threw a season-high 113 pitches while holding the A’s scoreless over 5 2/3 innings before the bullpen faltered down the stretch in a 5-4 Minnesota loss.
Berrios is 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA in two starts against the White Sox this season, allowing 10 runs (four earned) in 14 innings while striking out nine. Berrios carries a 8-2 career mark and a 2.21 ERA in 11 career starts versus Chicago.
The White Sox will counter with Lucas Giolito (11-4, 3.12 ERA). The right-hander took a no-decision at Tampa Bay on Saturday after spacing one run, seven hits, one walk and nine strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.
Giolito had compiled a 6.48 ERA in his five previous starts, but he appeared to return to his All-Star form against the Rays behind improved fastball command.
“When I was throwing low heaters, they were low right at the line,” Giolito said. “I felt like I was getting in on lefties and righties better than I have in my last two to three starts. And the changeup was a good complement to that. (Saturday) was a step in the right direction back on track.”
In seven career starts against Minnesota, Giolito is 3-3 with a 4.86 ERA. He pitched five shutout innings against the Twins on June 30 in Chicago to earn the victory as the White Sox prevailed 4-3.
–Field Level Media
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