Twins split on South Side, lead for 2nd WC 22 Aug 17

CHICAGO — Blasts from Jorge Polanco and Brian Dozier highlighted a four-homer performance as the Minnesota Twins stormed to a 10-2 win and split a straight doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on Monday.

The win, which was Minnesota’s 12th in its last 16 games, allowed the club to maintain pace in the crowded American League Wild Card race. The Twins entered the day tied with the Angels for possession of the second Wild Card spot, and claimed sole possession of the second spot after the Angels lost to Texas on Monday night.

“It was kind of a needed performance after losing the first game of the doubleheader,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “A lot of guys contributed offensively and the pitching helped it hold up.”

Minnesota quickly jumped on White Sox right-hander Carson Fulmer, who was making his first Major League start and 2017 debut after eight appearances out of the bullpen last season. After a seven-pitch first, Fulmer — ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the South Siders’ No. 11 prospect — threw more than 40 pitches in the second before being pulled with one out. Fulmer, a former No. 8 overall draft pick known for his lights-out stuff, topped out at 96.2 mph with his fastball and induced just one swing-and-miss before being pulled at 48 pitches.

“I fell behind quite a bit, and when I made a mistake, I paid for it,” Fulmer said. “I left the balls I threw up. The only thing I can do now is continue to work, learn from this experience and when I get the opportunity to do something like this again, I take full advantage of it and just continue to move on.”

“I thought they were squaring up a lot of his pitches,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “It didn’t matter what [Fulmer] was throwing. I thought they were laying off of offspeed, down in the zone. They seemed to hit every fastball he was throwing. Fell behind some guys and just left some pitches out over the plate and wasn’t able to get outs without going really deep into his pitch count there in the second.”

Polanco, who hit a three-run homer in the first game of Monday’s doubleheader, knocked another three-run blast to homer in back-to-back games for the first time in his career and set a new career-high with his fifth this season. Dozier added on with a three-run shot of his own, his 26th homer, as the Twins knocked out Fulmer after 1 1/3 innings with a 6-0 lead.

Byron Buxton continued his hot stretch, extending his career-high hitting streak to 12 games and blasting a solo homer in the fifth.

Twins right-hander Dillon Gee held down the fort for his first win of the season. He was sharp early, working four perfect innings on 42 pitches before Nicky Delmonico’s leadoff homer in the fifth. Gee allowed a run on two hits in six innings in his best performance of the season before being pulled at 69 pitches.

“I was aggressive and was able to fill up the zone and not walk guys,” said Gee, who is a candidate to start again Saturday in Toronto. “I felt in control. I didn’t have the best curveball, but I threw a ton of fastballs and changeups.”