Nova, Engel lead 'hugely competitive team effort'

September 19th, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins outfielder  didn’t miss by much on a potential game-tying home run against reliever Evan Marshall with two outs in the eighth inning of a 3-1 White Sox victory over Minnesota on Wednesday night at Target Field.

At the very least, the Twins looked as if they would have the tying run on third for , as the ball bounded away after hitting high on the right-field wall above 's leaping attempt. But  had other ideas.

The White Sox center fielder, who entered as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning, was in perfect position to play the carom and then fired what he termed as the best throw of his career to nail Rosario for the third out. Engel was one of many White Sox heroes in what might have been their most complete game of their season -- one that featured  throwing one inning as the opener, followed by seven relievers.

“That was a hugely competitive team effort,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said.

“Going into that game, you could look at it different ways,” White Sox catcher  said. “They have an All-Star on the mound, we are throwing a bullpen day. They are one of the best hitting teams in baseball. Obviously, we went up there and showed we can compete with anybody.”

Collins homered in the ninth off a changeup from Brusdar Graterol, giving the catcher three home runs on the season, including one on back-to-back nights. But the seeds of this victory, improving the White Sox to 66-86 and ending a four-game losing streak, started with Nova.

Wednesday was supposed to be Nova’s side session in preparation for Saturday’s start in Detroit. But with Dylan Covey being scratched due to shoulder soreness, Nova still threw his side session, only it came as a 23-pitch scoreless first inning.

Nova walked Jorge Polanco, then pitched around Nelson Cruz and walked him before retiring Rosario on a pop up to third baseman Yoán Moncada. He struck out Sano to end the frame. Jace Fry, Carson Fulmer, Josh Osich, Jimmy Cordero, Aaron Bummer, Marshall and Alex Colome followed, with the Twins not getting their first hit until Polanco’s one-out single in the sixth.

“I asked [White Sox pitching coach Don] Cooper, ‘I'm done, right?,'" said a smiling Nova. "He said, ‘No. You want one more?’ I said, ‘No thanks. You said one inning, so I'm out.’ It was pretty fun. I told Ricky, joking, that I don't like it, pitching with two days' [rest] is not fun.

“But you've got to do whatever you've got to do for the team. They need me to go one inning today, and I felt good enough to go.”

Moncada doubled twice to match his single-season career-high of 32 on the year, while scoring the first run on an Eloy Jiménez single off of Minnesota starter Jake Odorizzi in the second. Moncada also drove in Tim Anderson for the second run in the sixth.

But the play of the night came from Engel, who despite homering Tuesday, showed his greatest value as a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder.

“As soon as he hit the ball -- any time at this field, you see a ball go up toward that wall -- you just bust your butt and try to get in position to back guys up,” Engel said. “As soon as he hit the ball, I sprint and put my head down, and tried to get over there in time to get a ricochet.

“My favorite part of the play is it was the third out of an inning. That was the tying run at third base. This is a really good team that we are playing, and we have been playing really good baseball, and we haven’t been able to come out on top the last few days.”

Engel wouldn’t go as far as to say as it was his greatest play ever, not with some over-the-wall home run thievery on his resume. Still, it was a play the White Sox needed on a night they needed a win.

“After I see the ball on the wall, I think I have a good chance to triple," Rosario said. "I [didn't] see the center fielder. He’s doing a good job. Perfect throw. That’s a good play.”

“We’ve had a lot of really good games played, and we haven’t finished them off,” Engel said. “I feel like that [play] really contributed to helping us do that.”