Early outburst gives Johnson first Major League win
Seven-run first, four home runs give rookie ample support in third start
CHICAGO -- The White Sox did not complete the shutout during Monday night's 12-1 victory over the Twins at U.S. Cellular Field, with Minnesota pushing across a run in the eighth inning.
Catcher Bryan Anderson stood out as the only starter to finish without a hit, run scored or RBI in the team's balanced 13-hit attack.
Aside from those two minor hiccups, it was a near-perfect evening for the White Sox (59-91) in front of 15,018 fans and 960 dogs, who all watched rookie Erik Johnson (1-2) record his first career victory.
Frustration from a six-game losing streak was taken out on the Twins (64-85), making it a much-needed victory as well.
"You could say that," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of the easy victory recorded by his team with a 2-15 mark in the previous 17 games. "It's good for the lineup to have a night like this, with a lot of guys swinging the bats."
"It's tough losing every night," Anderson said. "It's definitely nice when you come out and kind of attack and pound some runs across the board early and kind of have fun for the night. Hopefully it carries on for the rest of the year."
During two losses to Detroit and a four-game sweep at the hands of the Indians, the White Sox scored seven runs. During the first inning Monday, the White Sox scored seven runs.
All seven runs were charged to Liam Hendriks (1-3), who did not get out of the opening frame. It was the most first-inning runs scored by the White Sox since they plated eight against Detroit on April 21, 2002. It matched their largest single-inning output this season, as the South Siders also scored seven in the eighth inning on July 9 in Detroit.
Monday marked the largest margin of victory for the White Sox this season and became the first time the White Sox scored more than six runs since Aug. 26 against the Astros. That explosive first inning featured run-scoring hits from Conor Gillaspie, Paul Konerko, Dayan Viciedo, Gordon Beckham and Alexei Ramirez, and a bases-loaded walk drawn by Alejandro De Aza.
Three pitchers between the two teams combined to throw 84 pitches over the 50-minute opening frame. Johnson threw 31, with only 16 for strikes, but escaped unscathed.
"For me, it was getting that zero in the top of the first," said Johnson, who appreciated the run support. "That kind of set the rhythm for me."
"There's things to get better at, but overall it's good," said Ventura of Johnson, who joined Andre Rienzo and Jake Petricka as the third White Sox rookie to pick up a win this year. "When you don't give up any runs and you're kind of making your way through a lineup, that's improvement. I think we've played a little bit better behind him, but there's good stuff there."
Johnson struck out eight and walked two over six innings. He finished off his night by striking out Josmil Pinto on a 93-mph fastball to strand the bases loaded.
Adam Dunn and Viciedo went deep on back-to-back pitches from Cole De Vries with one out in the fourth, marking home run No. 32 for Dunn and home run No. 13 for Viciedo. It was the third time this season the White Sox hit consecutive homers, with all of them being against the Twins and all of them involving Dunn, who tied Andre Dawson for 39th place all-time with 438 homers.
Jordan Danks, who added a double upheld by replay in the second, added a two-run shot in the sixth. Ramirez homered in the seventh and finished a triple short of the cycle among his four hits to match a career high.
"Their guy threw the ball decent, but we got behind so quick we couldn't do anything," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They swung the bats really well and put some in the seats. Every bad pitch we made, they whacked it."
After this three-game set with the Twins, the White Sox play three in Detroit, two in Cleveland, one home makeup game next Monday against the Blue Jays and four at home against Kansas City. They need four wins in those final 12 to avoid 100 losses.
On this night, though, a team that has been beaten down for much of the season could enjoy a memorable effort in front of their human and canine followers.
"If we need dogs to show up every night, we'll go ahead and make that happen," a smiling Ventura said.
"Hopefully it tumbles into a couple of more wins," Johnson said.
They also hit their mark behind one of their building blocks for future success on the mound, who received the traditional beer shower after victory No. 1.
"That's an experience in itself. It came as a surprise for me. I didn't know it was coming," said Johnson, who cracked a smile when talking about the celebration. "It's definitely one to remember. It's one under your belt, so now you can take a deep breath and go back to work."