MINNEAPOLIS—As Denard Span stood in center field, the ovation grew louder and louder. Finally, it got so loud Span had no choice but to tip his cap.Jamey Caroll’s sacrifice fly in the ninth inning scored Alexi Casilla and the Minnesota Twins won their fourth straight, beating the White Sox 7-6 Monday night.It was Span’s defense, however – highlighted by a leaping catch against the wall in left-center field – that stole the show.
“I made the catch, and I think the fans appreciated it more once they saw the replay,” Span said. “Just for them to clap and go as loud as they did for that amount of time – that was pretty special.”
Span added two hits and made another spectacular catch in the seventh, diving to rob A.J. Pierzynski and end the inning.Pierzynski homered in his first game after missing five with a strained oblique, and Alejandro De Aza returned from a wrist injury and matched a career high with four hits for the White Sox.
“We hit a lot of balls hard. It didn’t happen,” Robin Ventura said.
Danny Valencia, who had three hits and two RBI, led off the ninth with a single off reliever Brett Myers (0-1). Then Pierzynski’s throw to first after fielding Brian Dozier’s bunt sailed into right field, allowing each runner to move up.Carroll followed with a fly ball to right, allowing Casilla to slide in with the winning run ahead of Alex Rios’ throw.
“We’re giving away a lot of runs,” Ventura said. “The big ones are the unearned ones, you just give them something they really shouldn’t have. We’ve got to get better at that.”
De Aza’s single in the eighth off reliever Jared Burton tied it 6-6 and was the first run scored on Burton since June 12. The teams combined for nine hits and were tied 4-all after the first inning.The White Sox big inning was highlighted by Pierzynski’s three-run home run. Joe Mauer was one of four different Twins to drive in runs to tie it in the bottom half.The Twins took a 6-4 lead in the third on an RBI single from Ryan Doumit and a sacrifice fly from Valencia.Minnesota led 6-5 when Span made his leaping catch in the fifth. After sprinting into left-center field, he leaped against the fence and made the grab right in front of the White Sox bullpen.
“Oh my God, it was awesome,” said Twins starter Cole De Vries, who allowed five runs on seven hits in five innings. “Those are the things you count on when you’re not pitching well.”
The Twins, who snapped a five-game skid against the Sox, lead the American League in scoring for July and have scored 96 runs in their last 14 home games. Jose Quintana started, allowing six runs — four earned — on 10 hits over seven innings. Twins players were standing in the dugout and emotional on the field most of the night, obviously wanting to get a little payback after being swept by the White Sox last week.
“These guys are in first place in our division and we took a pretty good beating against them,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “It was fun tonight. Guys were into it. We fought hard.”
Glen Perkins (2-1) pitched the ninth, striking out Pierzynski with Rios on first to end the inning. Pierzynski barked at home plate umpire Adrian Johnson on his way back to the dugout.
“We’ve been playing well and tonight hopefully is just a blip on the radar,” Pierzynski said. “We made some mistakes and, obviously, the one in the ninth was the big one that I made. But things happen, but I like the way we fought after giving up the lead. We had chances and that’s all we can really ask for.”
NOTES—Francisco Liriano debuts for the White Sox on Tuesday night after the Twins traded him to the Sox late Saturday. … To make room for Liriano, the White Sox optioned Hector Santiago to Triple-A Charlotte. Santiago was 2-1 with a 3.66 ERA in 32 relief appearances, but manager Robin Ventura said he’ll get a chance to start at Charlotte. … Liriano (3-10, 5.31 ERA) said before Monday’s game that he had no hard feelings toward the Twins after the trade and that he’s ready to face his former team. “It just feels weird right now,” he said. “I’m just trying to fit in, do my part.” … The Twins will counter with Nick Blackburn (4-6, 7.99). The right-hander has allowed four runs or more in six of his last seven starts. … Injured Twins starter Carl Pavano (rotator cuff) will make his first rehab start on Thursday in the Gulf Coast League.