Twins go 2-1 in season opening series against White Sox

Nam Y. Huh/AP: Minnesota Twins’ Nelson Cruz hits a three-run home run against the Chicago White Sox during the eighth inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Sunday, July 26, 2020. The Twins won the game 13-2.

CHICAGO (AP) – Max Kepler homered against White Sox ace Lucas Giolito in his first two at-bats and the Minnesota Twins beat Chicago 10-5 on Friday night in the clubs’ first game of a 60-game season shortened by the coronavirus pandemic.

White Sox slugger Yoán Moncada had three hits, including a three-run shot off José Berrios in the second inning that tied the game at 5. The star third baseman showed no ill-effects from missing the start of summer camp because he contracted COVID-19.

Jorge Polanco answered with a two-run single in the fourth inning to put Minnesota ahead for good.

Giolito and Berrios struggled, and a duel between the All-Star right-handers never materialized.

Giolito (0-1) allowed seven runs, six hits and three walks before being pulled with two outs in the fourth in his first opening day start. 

Berrios, making his second straight opening day start, didn’t fare much better in a no-decision. He yielded five runs and seven hits in four innings.

Trevor May (1-0), the first of four Twins relievers, pitched a scoreless fifth.

Jake Cave started in center field in place of injured Byron Buxton and had two hits and two RBIs for Minnesota. Luis Arrraez also had two hits and had two RBIs as Minnesota pulled away with with three runs in the seventh.

Kepler lofted Giolito’s first pitch into the empty stands in right. Mitch Garver drove in a run with a sac fly and Cave plated two more with a sharp single.

After the White Sox cut it to 4-1 in the bottom of the first, Kepler launched a 2-2 pitch deep to right-center in the second for his ninth career multihomer game and a 5-1 Minnesota lead.

Saturday

 White Sox 10, Twins 3

Leury García crashed a successful pitch-and-catch college reunion for Dallas Keuchel and James McCann.

No one on the Chicago White Sox seemed to mind.

García homered from both sides of the plate, and Chicago pounded the Minnesota Twins 10-3 on Saturday.

Keuchel won his White Sox debut while throwing to McCann in a battery comprised of former teammates at the University of Arkansas. But the diminutive García, listed at 5-foot-8 and 185 pounds, stole the show with his second career multihomer game.

Edwin Encarnación hit a two-run drive as the White Sox bounced back nicely after losing 10-5 to the reigning AL Central champions on Friday night. McCann and Eloy Jiménez also went deep on the second day of the pandemic-delayed 60-game season.

Keuchel, who agreed to a $55.5 million, three-year contract in December, allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings. McCann finished with three hits and two RBIs.

Nelson Cruz connected for Minnesota, which hit a major league-record 307 homers last year. Randy Dobnak pitched four effective innings in a spot start after the Twins decided to give Rich Hill a couple more days to prepare for his debut with the team.

After Dobnak (0-1) departed, the White Sox jumped all over Zack Littell. García led off with a drive to right-center. With José Abreu aboard after a two-out single, Encarnación and Jiménez hit consecutive homers for a 5-0 lead.

It was Encarnación’s first hit for his new team after he signed a $12 million, one-year contract with Chicago in free agency. Jiménez’s drive to right hit the top of the wall and skipped over.

Littell allowed four homers in 37 innings all of last season.

“Minnesota chased Keuchel (1-0) in the sixth, and Cruz hit a three-run shot off Steve Cishek. But the White Sox poured it on against the Twins’ bullpen.

McCann singled in Adam Engel before García belted a three-run drive off left-hander Devin Smeltzer in the seventh, making it 10-3 White Sox.

Sunday

 Twins 14, White Sox 2

Jake Cave hit a grand slam, Nelson Cruz homered twice and Kenta Maeda was strong in his debut with his new team, helping the Minnesota Twins beat the Chicago White Sox 14-2 on Sunday.

Cruz added two doubles and drove in seven runs for the reigning AL Central champion Twins, who won two of three. Maeda (1-0), a Japanese right-hander who was traded in February from the Los Angeles Dodgers, allowed two runs and struck out six in five innings.

“It was a beautiful first start for him,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He went out there and was extraordinarily sharp.”

Highly touted rookie Luis Robert hit his first career home run and right-hander Reynaldo López (0-1) and left fielder Eloy Jiménez exited early with injuries for the White Sox.

Cave hit his second career grand slam in the first. Jiménez crashed into the fence chasing the ball and left the following inning because he was light headed.

Cruz hit a three-run double before Eddie Rosario doubled and Luis Arraez singled to extend the Twins’ lead to 9-0 in the second inning.

Cruz smacked a 435-foot solo shot in the fourth and added a three-run drive in the eighth for his 35th career multi-homer game. He went 7 for 13 with 10 RBIs and three home runs in the series.

“It’s something I love,” Cruz, 40, said about staying strong during the pandemic. “I love to work out. I don’t see it as a job or work. I love to do what I do, so hitting or going to the weight room, it’s fun, it’s part of my life.”

Marwin Gonzalez added a solo shot in the ninth for the Twins, who hit a major league-record 307 homers last season.

Robert hit a first-pitch, two-run homer off Maeda to cut the Twins’ lead to 10-2 in the fifth.

López exited with right shoulder tightness after recording just two outs, throwing 38 pitches and allowing four runs. Lopez was 0-3 with a 9.60 ERA in three starts against the Twins last season.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Twins: C Willians Astudillo (COVID-19) has been cleared to join the St. Paul group after testing negative. No timeline is set for his return to the 30-man roster. He missed all of summer camp after testing positive for the virus. … RHP Jake Odorizzi (sore back) will throw a bullpen session early this week, Baldelli said. … CF Byron Buxton (sprained left foot) could return Tuesday in the home opener against St. Louis. … LHP Lewis Thorpe (contusion) exited after a grounder hit his leg in the eighth. 

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