Twins beat Sale for 3rd time this year
Published 12:10 am Thursday, June 25, 2015
MINNEAPOLIS — Phil Hughes and the Minnesota Twins were undeterred by Chris Sale’s strikeout streak for the Chicago White Sox.
Why would they be, with all due respect to the lanky left-hander? Sale has become one of baseball’s best pitchers, but not against the Twins this year.
Hughes pitched eight strong innings on his birthday and Minnesota beat Sale for the third time this season, overcoming 10 more strikeouts by the three-time All-Star in a 6-1 victory Wednesday.
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“He’s definitely pitched very well against us a lot of times, so it’s hard to say you have his number — but this year obviously we’ve had some success,” said Kurt Suzuki, who had two hits and an RBI for the Twins.
Sale (6-4) reached double digits in strikeouts for the seventh straight game, the longest stretch since Randy Johnson in 2001. Sale was trying to become the first pitcher in modern major league history with at least 12 strikeouts in six consecutive starts.
His streak of innings with at least one strikeout was stopped at 38 when the Twins hit three doubles in a three-run fourth to give Hughes (6-6) the lead for good.
“I appreciate it, and it’s cool, but it’d be a lot better if we were winning more games, for sure,” Sale said after the White Sox fell to an AL-worst 13-25 on the road.
Sale is 1-3 with a 6.46 ERA in four turns against the Twins this season. Against everyone else in the majors, he is 5-1 with a 1.88 ERA in 10 starts.
“The mood was pretty good in here about what we had to do,” Hughes said.
Sale allowed eight hits, one walk and six runs (five earned) in 6 2-3 innings. He left during a three-run seventh amid another stretch of sloppy defense by the White Sox, who have lost his last three starts.
“It just gives you a feeling that if you grind it out, you might have a chance to find a way,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “He’s one of those guys that, he’s going to make you look bad from time to time, but you’ve got to look at each at-bat and each inning as a new opportunity.”
Adam LaRoche, who had three hits, homered to start the second, but Hughes settled in smoothly to win with eight innings and one run allowed for the second straight time. He gave up six hits and struck out five without a walk, lowering his ERA to 4.20 on his 29th birthday.
“Obviously a tough start to my year, but a lot of games ahead of us and this team’s doing a lot of good things and I want to be in there in the end,” Hughes said.
Brian Dozier and Shane Robinson had two hits for the Twins, who are 9-4 against the White Sox this year while outscoring them 78-35.
“If you feel like you give up more than two you’re going to get beat, it’s tough to pitch like that,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “We’ve got a lot of room for improvement on offense.”
Sale’s strikeout/innings streak was the longest since Johan Santana struck out at least one batter over 39 straight innings in 2002 for the Twins. Only Pedro Martinez (1999) and Johnson (1998) had whiffed at least 12 over five straight starts since 1914, according to STATS research.
The Twins sent right-hander Michael Tonkin, who has a 5.73 ERA in 16 appearances, to Triple-A Rochester after the game. Molitor declined to elaborate on whether the Twins would stick with eight relievers or Tonkin would be replaced by a position player.
White Sox: Alexei Ramirez, who has started all but two games at SS, made his ninth error of the season and went 0 for 4 to drop his batting average to .220.
Twins: OF Aaron Hicks (strained right forearm) is scheduled to start a rehab assignment Friday with Triple-A Rochester. GM Terry Ryan wouldn’t speculate on whether Hicks would return to the team when he’s eligible to come off the disabled list Monday. “No promises,” Ryan said.
The White Sox play Detroit on Thursday, with Carlos Rodon (3-1, 3.75 ERA) pitching against Tigers RHP Alfredo Simon (7-4, 3.29 ERA) to begin a four-game set.
The Twins have Thursday off before traveling to Milwaukee. Trevor May (4-5, 4.03 ERA) takes the mound Friday against the Brewers.