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Walk-off in the park: Mauer, Twins win in 12

July 29, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS -- Ricky Nolasco of the Twins and José Quintana of the White Sox started a pitcher's duel that lasted deep into the Minnesota night that ended when pinch-hitter Joe Mauer drew a bases-loaded walk in the 12th inning to give the Twins a 2-1 walk-off victory over the White

MINNEAPOLIS -- Ricky Nolasco of the Twins and José Quintana of the White Sox started a pitcher's duel that lasted deep into the Minnesota night that ended when pinch-hitter Joe Mauer drew a bases-loaded walk in the 12th inning to give the Twins a 2-1 walk-off victory over the White Sox on Friday night at Target Field.
Eddie Rosario came home on the third straight walk issued by the Chicago bullpen to score the first run on either side since the sixth inning, giving the Twins just their second win of the season against the White Sox.
"I gave [Mauer] a chance to win the game and he laid off a couple of changeups that I think would have enticed a lot of hitters when a guy's throwing that hard," said Twins manager Paul Molitor. "But he laid off and ended up working the walk."
For the second game in a row, the Twins allowed a home run to the first batter of the game, with Adam Eaton taking Nolasco deep on his second pitch. But from there, Nolasco switched on the cruise control. Chicago only added a single and a double in Nolasco's season-high eight innings, in which he tied season-lows with one run and three hits allowed.
No hit needed for Mauer's first walk-off in 9 years
"It's always tough. Extra innings is tough," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "But you feel like you gave it to 'em. You're not going to throw strikes, that's what makes it tougher."
On the other side, Quintana was also mowing down Minnesota hitters, shutting out the Twins through five innings before the Twins broke through with four hits in the sixth, punctuated by a game-tying RBI single from Kennys Vargas. Quintana allowed one run and seven hits through 6 2/3 innings, and his nine strikeouts were his most since June 11.

"We found a way to stay with it," said Molitor. "Finally, in the 12th inning, we showed some patience, took some walks and we ended up walking a run in. We stayed with the game and found a way to win."
Frazier day to day with flu-like symptoms
Eaton didn't just show off his bat; he also made a big impact on the game with his tremendous arm, recording two key outfield assists that helped preserve the tie and force extra innings. He threw out Miguel Sanó at home in the sixth to limit Minnesota's game-tying rally before gunning down Robbie Grossman at third in the eighth to negate his leadoff double.
Not to be outdone, his counterpart in right field, Twins rookie Max Kepler, also showed off his arm by gunning down Melky Cabrera at third base in the ninth inning as Cabrera attempted to go to third on José Abreu's two-out single.

Sano goes rogue: The Twins managed to tie the game 1-1 in the sixth against Quintana with three singles and a double, but they might have had more if not for a baserunning blunder. Brian Dozier singled to lead off the inning and moved to third on Sano's one-out hit to center. Even though the Twins would have had the tying run on third with one out, Sano took a risk and went for second, sliding in safely despite the throw beating him. On Vargas' soft game-tying single, Sano ran through third-base coach Gene Glynn's stop sign, and that time, the gamble didn't pay off as Eaton threw him out at home by a wide margin.
"It's one of those areas where we continue to try and teach, and you have to be patient," Molitor said. "It wasn't a particularly good read. It sure looked like a hit off the bat, and he hung out there a while to make sure. When you get a good read, you probably score easily. When you don't, you've got to pick up the coach."

Swing and a drive: Eaton homered on the second pitch of the game, connecting for his sixth career leadoff homer, his second this season and the third by the White Sox. Per Statcast™, the home run had an exit velocity of 105.9 mph and traveled 451 feet, which was Eaton's personal longest in the Statcast™ ERA. It's also the longest home run by a White Sox player this season, topping Tim Anderson's 442-foot shot on July 18. Eaton added two outfield assists defensively, throwing Sano out at home and Grossman out at third, giving him 16 for the year.
"He continues to do that. Guys run on him, he's just showing a strong arm," Ventura said. "He's as accurate as anybody from right field. I don't know anybody that's playing a better right field than him."

Welcome back:Justin Morneau produced 221 home runs and 860 RBIs over parts of 11 seasons with the Twins, winning the 2006 American League MVP. Those memories were not forgotten by Twins fans, who gave Morneau a standing ovation in his return to Target Field for the first time as a visiting player. Morneau then proceeded to single off the right-field wall, missing a home run by a few feet.

"It would have been nicer if the ball was about a foot higher and I could have jogged around the bases," Morneau said. "But it was a very neat experience." More >

Nolasco dominates: Nolasco, one of the Twins' trade chips leading up to Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, put on a show for potential buyers with a season-high eight innings against a struggling White Sox offense. It was his longest outing since he went eight innings against the Tigers on Sept. 16, 2014. It also followed his shortest outing of the season on July 23, when the Red Sox tagged him for six runs and chased him after two innings. He retired 10 straight Chicago hitters at one point and never allowed more than one baserunner at a time. Friday marked his fourth quality start in his last five outings.
"I don't think he had his best stuff, per se," Molitor said. "The competitiveness was there and he changed his arm angle now and then. He just did a nice job. We talked about him going back out for the eighth inning, and he had a really nice, clean inning." More >

"We are close to a .500 ballclub and that's kind of the way the week has gone with that. Win a couple, lose a couple. Didn't take advantage tonight." -- Morneau, on the loss
According to Elias Sports Bureau, the 2016 Twins are tied for second in MLB history with 12 leadoff homers allowed this season, including five in their last nine games. The 1987 Indians allowed 14 game-opening long balls for the all-time record, while the 2004 Dodgers also gave up 12. The Twins, of course, still have two months left to play.
"Well, we might walk Eaton tomorrow," Molitor joked.
The White Sox have scored one run in their last 32 innings.
After Morneau singled in the second, Dioner Navarro hit a line drive that deflected off Nolasco's glove and rolled softly to shortstop Eduardo Escobar. Escobar appeared to step on second and throw to first for the double play, but second-base umpire Adrian Johnson initially ruled Morneau safe at second. A short review of 48 seconds overturned the call after it was determined Escobar definitively touched second base before he made the throw.

White Sox:Miguel González takes the mound for the White Sox in the second game of this series on Saturday, with a first pitch scheduled for 6:10 p.m. CT. Gonzalez is 1-2 with a 2.76 ERA over his last five starts..
Twins: Left-hander Tommy Milone (3-3, 4.97 ERA) will get the start for the Twins after getting roughed up for eight runs by the Red Sox in his last outing. He'll hope changing the color of his Sox will reverse his misfortunes: Milone is 4-1 with a 2.75 ERA in nine career starts against the White Sox.
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Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

**Do-Hyoung Park is a reporter for based in Minneapolis.