Kepler, Polanco power Twins past AL Central-leading Chicago

Published 7:00 am Thursday, July 22, 2021

CHICAGO (AP) — Max Kepler homered for a second straight game, Jorge Polanco also went deep, and the Minnesota Twins beat the Chicago White Sox 7-2 on Wednesday night.

The Twins beat the AL Central leaders for just the fourth time in 16 games. They bounced back after Chicago rallied late to win Tuesday’s game and came out on top after losing five of six.

“We added some runs and never really let it get close,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “That’s a good feeling. We don’t have to let the game get close. We can put the other team away and play a game like we did tonight. That was really, really nice.”

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Kepler gave the Twins a 1-0 lead when he led off the third inning by sending a low curve from Chicago starter Dylan Cease (7-6) ringing off the right field foul pole.

“Maybe I just see the ball a little better off him than others,” Kepler said of Cease, whom he also singled off of in the first. “I stayed through that curveball, and I think it’s the first ball I’ve ever hit in my career, anywhere, off the foul pole. So that was special.”

Polanco singled and scored in a two-run fifth. He made it 6-1 in the sixth with a three-run homer into the right-field bullpen against Codi Heuer.

Michael Pineda (4-5) went five innings, allowing one run and four hits, in his first win since May 26. He was 0-3 in his previous four starts.

Cease gave up three runs and seven hits in five innings. The 25-year-old right-hander is 0-3 in his last four starts.

“I wasn’t executing pitches very well early on,” Cease said. “I came out a little slow. I don’t feel like I really started executing very well until about the third. Swing and miss was alright. But it’s one of those, it was an unfortunate game.”

Adam Engel had an RBI single in the third. Andrew Vaughn doubled in a run in the eighth. But the White Sox lost after winning nine of 11.