Twins rout White Sox, win sixth straight, top majors with 36-16 record
MINNEAPOLIS -- A bright blue, mostly cloudless sky and temperatures in the low 70s brought a crowd of nearly 40,000 fans to Target Field.
Well, that and the team with the best record in major league baseball.
An announced attendance of 39,913, the largest crowd at Target Field since Opening Day 2016, watched the Twins do what the Twins do. These days, that means getting a solid outing from their starter and hitting a home run or two — or, in the case of last Thursday, eight — along the way.
This time out, it was Jake Odorizzi, Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler filling in the formula as part of the Twins’ 7-0 win over the Chicago White Sox. The victory completed a series sweep as the Twins extended their winning streak to six games, a season high.
“The atmosphere is a good vibe right now. Everybody’s picking each other up,” Rosario said. “If someone walks, someone will get the hit. If someone strikes out, everybody picks everybody up. The starting pitching is doing well, so everybody’s playing together.”
Odorizzi, who was battling an illness, posted his fifth scoreless start of the season — and fourth this month — and lowered his earned-run average to 2.16. For the month of May, that number is even lower: the righty posted a 0.94 ERA with 31 strikeouts across 28 2/3 innings pitched.
Manager Rocco Baldelli came to get Odorizzi after 5 1/3 innings. At that point, Odorizzi had given up just one hit, a single to White Sox center fielder Charlie Tilson. He had walked one and struck out nine, including the last four batters he faced.
“I used my fastball a lot. I felt like I had good carry to it today,” Odorizzi said. “I was able to execute it, and they were swing and mishitting it, so I just wanted to keep going with what was working best. We mixed in occasional breaking stuff today, but the fastball was the most important pitch of the day.”
White Sox starter Dylan Covey limited the Twins (36-16) to three hits in his six innings, but the Twins made him pay with those hits. They scored their first run in the third when Kepler hit a ball to center that Tilson misjudged. He broke inward, and the ball went over his head, allowing Buxton to score and Kepler, who was also sick over the weekend, to wind up on second with a double.
Later in the inning, Rosario hammered a first-pitch changeup, sending his 16th home run of the season out to right field for three runs. In the seventh, Kepler broke the game open completely with the team’s second two-out, three-run home run. His 12th of the season landed in the junipers in center field.
“It’s fun to see those guys put good swings on the ball,” Baldelli said. “They got two of the big hits today, but I think our good at-bats allowed us to have some runners on base for them and allowed kind of everything to take place the way it did.
“If you don’t have those base runners, if you don’t force your way on somehow, then those home runs, you’re scoring fewer runs obviously.”
The win moved the Twins to 11-3 on the season against American League Central opponents. It also capped off their seventh sweep of the year, matching last year’s total.
The Twins head into Memorial Day as the only American League Central team above .500, holding a 10-game lead over Cleveland.
“I said before spring training started, I looked at the lineup, looked at the pitchers and I knew this team would do damage,” Kepler said. “… Everyone has to stay in their right mental place, and just stay healthy. All of them have the ability to do great stuff.”