Sano's HR sends Milone, Twins to victory
MINNEAPOLIS -- Miguel Sano hit his 15th home run of the season, a solo shot in the second inning, and Trevor Plouffe doubled with the bases loaded in the seventh to provide starter Tommy Milone with all the run support he needed in the Twins' 3-0 victory over the White Sox on Wednesday.
With the Rangers' win over San Diego, the Twins remain a game back of Texas for the second Wild Card spot in the American League. Minnesota has now won 10 of 12 and improved to 11-4 against the White Sox this season.
"It all starts when you're playing catch, and everything felt good from the start," Milone said.
Milone, who is 3-0 with a 0.87 ERA vs. Chicago this season, threw seven scoreless frames in the victory, marking the first time he has tossed more than six innings since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 16. The White Sox scattered just three singles against him.
"He just never gave in, even when he was behind. He utilized his changeup," said White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers. "He had a real good feel for it today. He was getting the benefit of the doubt away to righties, so he kind of exposed that and took advantage of that, sneaks some fastballs, cutters in and continued to work that changeup on us."
Kevin Jepsen got his fifth save with the Twins since joining them July 31 in place of closer Glen Perkins. Perkins, who got the save in Tuesday's victory, has been dealing with lower back spasms. Twins manager Paul Molitor said Perkins' back spasmed when he went out to play catch Wednesday. The Twins had an MRI done which Molitor said didn't reveal a serious issue, but Perkins might be held back for the beginning of the team's upcoming road trip.
White Sox rookie Carlos Rodon turned in a quality start of his own -- his fifth in as many games -- to lower his ERA to 4.10. Rodon left in the seventh after giving up a single to lead off the inning, and the Twins, who had threatened in the three innings prior, finally broke through against the White Sox bullpen.
"Yeah, winning is everything in this game. It's tough," Rodon said. "[I was] just trying to keep it close for the team and let them do their job."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Sore hamstring, Sa-no problem: Sano has been dealing with a mild hamstring strain for almost a week and has looked noticeably slow on the basepaths, but it hasn't affected his swing. The rookie launched a home run on a 1-0 fastball in the second inning, sending it a projected 434 feet, according to Statcast™. The home run was his third in as many games.
"You're kind of exchanging what might happen -- for example a double play ball -- compared to the fact that he might hit one over the center field fence," Molitor said. "You're getting swings but you might have to give up a little bit of the base running aspect to try to keep him in there, and tonight the home run was huge."
Rodon holds under pressure: There wasn't a great deal of solid contact against Rodon, but he didn't exactly breeze unscathed through six innings. The Twins put runners on first and second in the fourth with nobody out, had runners on first and second with one out in the fifth and then, again, had runners on first and second with two outs in the sixth. Rodon escaped unscathed from each trouble spot.
"After that [Sano homer], he got in a little bit of a bind and gets out of it," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Rodon. "He's got good stuff, and he's been doing well. We have to put something on the board to help him out."
Plouffe delivers in seventh: The Twins looked like they might let a prime opportunity slip away after loading the bases off Rodon and Jake Petricka in the seventh. After Petricka struck out second baseman Brian Dozier, Dan Jennings got Joe Mauer swinging. But Plouffe lined a two-out double to left, giving the Twins a pair of insurance runs.
"I wanted to pick my teammates up, who were picking me up through the slump that I'm going through," Plouffe said. "A lot of guys have picked me up -- pitchers, hitters -- and it felt good to come through tonight for them."
Montas makes debut: Frankie Montas, the White Sox No. 3 prospect per MLB.com behind only Tim Anderson and Carson Fulmer, made his big league debut in the eighth inninng after being called up when rosters expanded on Tuesday. He struck out Sano looking with a slider to open the frame and worked a perfect inning, hitting 99 mph with the fastball.
"I was nervous. My legs were kind of shaking. I was like, 'Oh, my God. I'm really here.' I was thinking, 'Just try to throw the ball for a strike.'" -- Montas
White Sox: Jeff Samardzija puts August in the rear view mirror as he makes his first start of September. Samardzija is 3-1 with a 5.12 ERA lifetime against the Twins. He is coming off a month of August in which he lost all six starts and had an 8.82 ERA.
Twins: The Twins will send Kyle Gibson to the mound for the finale of the three-game series, beginning at 12:10 p.m. CT. Gibson is 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA in 16 innings pitched against the White Sox this season, and he is coming off a scoreless outing against the Astros.
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