With a five-game lead in the American League Central and 12 games to go, the Minnesota Twins are taking a simple approach as they close in on their first division title since 2010.
“I think just coming out playing good baseball,” catcher Mitch Garver said when asked what his team’s mindset is for its final homestand, which began with a 5-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Monday night in Minneapolis. “We just need to continue what we’re doing.”
Minnesota (92-58), which took two out of three at second-place Cleveland (87-63) over the weekend, has a magic number of eight. The Twins got a big break heading into their Tuesday night game with the White Sox (65-85), who are in third place but a distant 27 games behind the Twins.
All-Star right-hander Lucas Giolito (14-9, 3.41 ERA), who went the distance in shutting out the Twins on three hits while striking out 12 in his last start at Target Field on Aug. 21, was scheduled to start Tuesday night’s contest. However, he is done for the season because of a mild lat strain.
Left-hander Ross Detwiler (2-5, 6.79 ERA), who is 1-1 with a 6.14 ERA in five career appearances and two starts against Minnesota, will take Giolito’s place. He will start at Target Field for the first time in his career.
The White Sox announced the news of Giolito’s injury after the Monday night game.
“I thought it was a cramp in my triceps,” Giolito said of some pain he felt in his arm on Sunday. “So, I was like, I don’t need to throw a side (session). I’m good. Then the MRI (on Monday) showed it was a very, very mild lat strain. So they decided to shut me down.”
Chicago, which has lost three games in a row and is 5-15 in its past 20 games, had lost Giolito’s last four starts. He finishes with 228 strikeouts in 176 2/3 innings and also tossed three complete games and two shutouts.
“For me, it sucks because I wanted to finish what I started,” Giolito said. “But at the same time, it is what it is. It just was kind of a random thing that happened. … If we were in the playoff hunt at this point, I’d be arguing as much as I could to go out there and pitch.”
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said, “It’s very clear it’s a mild lat strain and zero long-term concerns.”
Minnesota will start left-hander Martin Perez (10-7, 4.89 ERA) in the second game of the three-game series. Perez is 3-2 with a 4.81 ERA in five career starts against the White Sox but lost his only previous start this season against the White Sox this season, 5-1 at Chicago on July 27.
Perez gave up three runs on seven hits, including a solo homer to Yoan Moncada, over six innings. He walked one and struck out four.
Garver drove in the go-ahead run Monday night with a double off the bottom of the right field wall in the fifth inning. Minnesota also got another strong start from Jose Berrios (13-8), who allowed two runs on five hits over 7 1/3 innings.
“When we (got) home from the Cleveland series, we were playing really, really well,” Garver said. “Our offense is producing runs, our defense is making plays and our pitching is really just throwing strikes when we need to. We’ll look to continue that … and hopefully we can sneak out a few wins.”
–Field Level Media