The Minnesota Twins are on a roll and will try to further distance themselves from the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central standings when the two rivals get together again tonight in the second portion of a three-game series from Target Field.
The Twins needed some late heroics from veteran slugger Jim Thome in last night’s 7-6 victory, as he swatted a game-winning two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning to lift his club to its fifth straight win. Thome ended with three hits and three RBI, while Delmon Young went 3-for-5 with a home run and two runs scored for Minnesota, which pushed its lead in the AL Central to four games ahead of Chicago and has won eight in a row in the Twin Cities.
“Any time you can gain ground or gain a game in the standings against a team like that, they can get hot like they did and run off a win streak,” Thome said of his former club. “Our big thing is to keep the approach we have every day and stay true to our approach. Each of us knows our role and we’ve done a nice job with that.”
Orlando Hudson also homered and starter Scott Baker was bailed out by his offense in the no-decision. Baker was reached for four runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings, while Ron Mahay was credited with the win for getting the final out in the top of the 10th inning.
Minnesota, which is 17-4 in its last 21 games, is in good position to keep both of its winning streaks alive as it sends Francisco Liriano to the mound Wednesday. Liriano has won five of his last six starts and defeated Chicago the last time out on Thursday at U.S. Cellular Field, where he allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings of a 6-1 victory.
Liriano, a left-hander, improved to 11-7 this season to go along with a 3.26 earned run average in 23 starts. He is 2-0 in three starts this season against Chicago and 2-3 in nine career games (6 starts) in this series.
Meanwhile, the White Sox have dropped three in a row and seven of their last nine games to plummet further off the division lead.
Matt Thornton surrendered Thome’s game-winning blast in the 10th to absorb the loss and starter John Danks was banged up for five runs and 11 hits in seven innings of work.
Mark Kotsay hit a two-run homer, and both Alexei Ramirez and Paul Konerko contributed solo shots for the White Sox, who took a brief lead in the top of the 10th frame thanks to Ramirez’s RBI single.
“We fought back,” Chicago fiery manager Ozzie Guillen said. “They’re playing hard, they played very good. The only thing you can do is go out and get them [Wednesday].”
Chicago will also visit Kansas City on the current road trip and is scheduled to put Gavin Floyd on the mound Wednesday. Floyd had won three straight and six of eight starts before losing to Minnesota on Thursday. He allowed all six runs in the 6-1 setback and lasted 6 2/3 innings, falling to 4-6 in 11 career starts against the Twins.
Floyd, a right-hander, is 8-9 with a 3.70 earned run average in 24 starts this season and 3-6 in 11 stints away from the Windy City.
Minnesota has won nine of the 13 meetings with Chicago thus far in 2010.