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Jul. 22—CHICAGO — Two weeks ago after his last start, Michael Pineda was asked about the possibility of being dealt ahead of the July 30 trade deadline. Pineda was asked a variation of the same question again on Wednesday.
The answer was more or less the same.
"I don't worry about that," he said. "I'm a Minnesota Twin, and I'm trying to focus and be ready every five days and help my team to win the game. So, whatever happens, I don't have control over that situation."
Whether he's thinking about it or not, it's certainly possible that Wednesday's start could have been one of Pineda's last in a Twins uniform. And he made sure it was a good one.
After getting an extended break, Pineda turned in a five-inning, one-run effort in the Twins' 7-2 win over the White Sox on Wednesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field, showing the value he could provide to a contending team. It was a return to form after he gave up five runs in his last outing, his first since coming off the injured list.
"Today, for me, I feel much better and confident with my secondary pitch, with my slider," Pineda said. "I'm finally working better. This is the key tonight. I felt much better with my slider and got quick outs."
Pineda threw extra in his bullpen session to help keep his arm and his body ready to compete, and said he was trying to make adjustments on his slider between starts.
"What he said in the dugout was that his slider actually felt a lot of better today. He had really good feel for it, especially as the outing went on," manager Rocco Baldelli said. " ... Mike battled them pretty good. He was efficient. He did a nice job. He was feeling good. We probably could have sent him out there for another inning if we wanted to, but he gave us a quality performance and we turned it over to the other guys."
It was the type of quality performance the Twins have grown accustomed to seeing from Pineda.
For the past three seasons — interrupted occasionally by suspension and injury — Pineda has generally been the picture of consistency when he's been on the mound. But with a contract that expires after this season, he could find himself on the move soon, providing some value for a team in the playoff hunt in need of a solid starting pitcher.
That, of course, hinges upon his health — Pineda missed time in June with a forearm issue — but on Wednesday, he looked just fine. Pineda allowed just a run on four hits, that one run coming in the third inning on an Adam Engel RBI single that tied the game at the time.
Pineda and the Twins (41-55) never trailed the White Sox (58-38) on Wednesday, taking the lead for good in the fifth inning on Josh Donaldson's two-out, two-run single.
For the second straight night, Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco each homered. Polanco's home run helped put the game out of reach in the sixth inning. His three-run home run off Codi Heuer was one of three hits on the night for the Twins' second baseman.
Polanco also came around to score the Twins' seventh run of the night, coming home on Nelson Cruz's sacrifice fly after he stole third base, which helped the Twins seal the series split and made a winner out of Pineda.
"It's a little hard," Pineda said of not thinking about the trade deadline. "But for me, personally, I don't try to put that in my head because I have work to do and I want to focus and be ready every five days and help my team. That's my goal."