MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Jorge Polanco homered twice and Ervin Santana struck out seven while pitching into the seventh inning, leading the Minnesota Twins past the Chicago White Sox, 6-4, on Tuesday night.
Eduardo Escobar drove in two runs for the Twins, who started the day with a one-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels in the crowded race for the second AL wild card. Santana (14-7) matched his highest total for wins since he was a 17-game winner 2010 with the Angels.
Jose Abreu went 4-for-4 with a walk and two RBIs for the White Sox, who fell to 4-17 in their last 21 road games.
Boosted by a surge of production from their promising young hitters and buoyed by the steadiness of veteran starters Santana and Bartolo Colon, the Twins are 18-10 this month.
Only six games are left on their schedule against teams on pace for the playoffs. Including the White Sox this week, they’re facing six opponents in the other 26 games with losing records and a combined 70 games under .500 entering play on Tuesday.
Matt Belisle pitched the ninth for his fifth save, completing a successful transition from Santana to the bullpen.
Santana was removed with two outs in the seventh, the 21st time in 27 starts he has completed six frames. He struck out the last batter of the inning three times, including All-Star Avisail Garcia on a 92 mph fastball in the third with two runners in scoring position. Garcia angrily cocked his right arm against his leg after swinging and missing.
James Shields (2-5) has not won for the White Sox in 10 starts. He’s been better this month, thanks in part to an alteration of his arm angle, but this was a mediocre output with five hits and five walks allowed in five innings. He left with a 4-0 deficit.
In the first inning, Shields cost himself defensively. Eddie Rosario’s comebacker could’ve been a double play, but Shields threw high to shortstop Tim Anderson covering second base to disrupt his rhythm and only get one out as a run scored. Rosario moved up on a wild pitch and scored on Byron Buxton’s RBI single.
STUFFING THE SOX
Not only was this Polanco’s first career multihomer game, the 24-year-old shortstop became the fifth player in Twins hitter to go deep from both sides of the plate in the same contest.
In Polanco’s last six games against the White Sox, going back to the beginning of last week, he’s 7 for 21 with 11 RBIs and six of his 13 career home runs. Having hit safely in 22 of 25 games in August, Polanco is batting .387 (36 for 93) with 17 extra-base hits and 22 RBIs.
An overslide by Anderson of second base cost him a double in the fifth inning. When he hit a ball in the seventh to almost the same spot, off the tall wall in right field, Anderson exaggerated his final step and stood with perfect posture directly on the base. He clapped and pointed to the White Sox dugout, where some mock praise was being directed his way.
White Sox: RHP Reynaldo Lopez (back strain) threw another trouble-free bullpen session. When he’s fully healthy and his spot comes up, he’ll rejoin the rotation. “We’re not going to push it,” manager Rick Renteria said.
Twins: 3B Miguel Sano’s recovery from a stress reaction in his left shin has not been as smooth as hoped. He’s been limited to cardiovascular work in the pool and on the bike. “I think it’s improving. I just think that it’s a slow process, unfortunately,” manager Paul Molitor said.
White Sox: LHP Derek Holland (7-13, 6.05 ERA) takes the mound Wednesday. He beat Minnesota in Chicago last week with six innings and one run allowed.
Twins: RHP Jose Berrios (11-6, 4.04 ERA) pitches the middle game of the series. He’s won each of his last six home starts, with a 2.88 ERA over 40 1/3 innings.
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