Twins avoid sweep with 5-1 victory over Chicago White Sox

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CHICAGO — Just before first pitch on Sunday afternoon, the White Sox game day operations folks played the Average White Band’s 1970s radio hit, “Pick Up the Pieces.” It was an auspicious choice for the visiting Twins.

After getting walked-off on Friday night, and nearly no-hit on Saturday, Minnesota picked up the pieces and cobbled together a 5-1 victory to avoid a three-game sweep at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Dylan Bundy pitched a masterful five innings, and Carlos Correa and Jose Miranda each drove in a pair of runs as the Twins, at least temporarily, pulled within a half-game of first-place Cleveland in the American League Central Division.

About seven hours later, Seattle finished off an 11-inning victory over the Guardians, lifting the Twins back into a first-place tie.

“It was a great win coming back from last night,” Correa said. “Like I said before, losing by one run, losing by 10 runs, it’s just a loss in the column, and you’ve just got to figure out a way to come back the next day, cross that one out and focus on the job at hand, and that was winning today.”

After managing just one hit against Dylan Cease in a 13-0 loss on Saturday night, Luis Arraez’s single with two out in the ninth, the Twins pounded out 12 hits against six Chicago pitchers on Sunday. But reliever Jhoan Duran might have made the biggest impression for Minnesota.

The big, hard-throwing right hander came in to snuff out a fire after the White Sox cut the Twins’ lead to 2-1 on three hits against reliever Michael Fulmer. Duran entered the game with runners at second and third with one out.

“The game’s going to turn, probably, one way or the other in that spot,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.

With outfielder Leury Garcia at the plate, interim White Sox manager Miguel Cairo called for a safety squeeze. Garcia poked the second pitch right at Duran, who calmly fielded it and underhanded a throw to Gary Sanchez, who tagged out pinch-runner Adam Haseley for the second out.

“It actually happened how we planned,” Duran said through interpreter Elvis Martinez. “Once I came onto the mound, Correa talked to me. I know Garcia is a fast runner, and when runners are in scoring position, second base, I knew there was the possibility of a hit-and-run or a bunt to move the runner. He bunted, the ball came to me, and yeah – muscle memory.”

Duran then fanned Romy Gonzalez for the third out, and he came back to pitch a 1-2-3 in the eighth to send the Twins into the ninth with a 3-1 lead.

“He’s on top of the game right now,” Correa said of Duran, 24. “He’s the elite of the elite out there when you talk about the best bullpen arms in the big leagues. You talk about (the Mets’) Edwin Diaz, you talk about Jhoan Duran.”

It was an overall well-played game by the Twins, important after being dominated by right-hander Dylan Cease on Saturday.

Max Kepler made a big defensive play in right field on a Eloy Jiménez liner to the warning track in the seventh inning, then singled and scored on a wild pitch from Kendall Graveman in the eighth to make it 3-1. Left-inning platoon Kyle Garlick and Jake Cave were a combined 3 for 4.

Correa had two extra-base hits, including his 16th home run after a Gilberto Celestino walk in the fourth. He would have driven home three runs had Billy Hamilton, pinch-running for Luis Arraez in the ninth, not stumbled rounding third on his double. Both runners, however, came home on Miranda’s double to the gap off right-hander Vince Velasquez to give the Twins a 5-1 lead.

“He had some really good swings, just pleasant swings to watch,” Baldelli said.

So was Bundy (8-6), who left with a 2-0 lead after allowing just two hits and a walk and striking out five in five innings. He had thrown only 66 pitches and wanted to go back out for the sixth.

“There was more of a conversation (about that) today,” Bundy said with a smile. “The eye test, you see the guy having better stuff that day, I think you can leave him out there. But I totally get it. We’re coming down to the last 28, 30 games and every game is a playoff game right now for us just to get in.”

Baldelli said that decision is made after he asks himself, and his coaches, a simple question: “In a tighter ballgame,” he said, “what is our best chance of putting up a zero in the next inning?”

“The answer,” he continued, “is usually gonna be your good bullpen arms, your late-inning arms. They’re going to probably give you that.”

Griffin Jax, Duran and Caleb Thielbar all pitched scoreless innings.

The Twins start a four-game series against the AL East-leading New York Yankees with a noon first pitch Monday at Yankee Stadium.

“It was very important for us to go into New York with a positive mentality, getting that win,” Correa said. “And I think we played really clean baseball today. It was beautiful all around.”

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