Span's great glove sets up Twins for walk-off victory

  • Article by: JASON GONZALEZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 31, 2012 - 7:21 AM

Jamey Carroll's sac fly extended their winning streak to four.

Looking up at the big screen in right field, Denard Span impressed even himself.

There was no doubt what he had done was special. The fans wouldn't allow him to think anything less.

Moments earlier, the Twins center fielder climbed the left-center field wall to steal an extra-base hit from Alex Rios and protect a one-run lead.

The lead wouldn't last, but Span's heroics gave the Twins the life they needed to continue a winning streak that extended to four. Jamey Carroll slapped a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 7-6 victory over the Chicago White Sox.

"I got a good massage yesterday, so my body and legs were feeling pretty good [Monday]. It was a fun catch and a fun moment all-around," Span said with a smile. "For [the fans] to clap and go as loud as they did for that time, that was pretty special."

The White Sox aided the Twins' fourth walk-off victory of the season. Danny Valencia singled off Brett Myers leading off the ninth and was replaced by Alexi Casilla. Brian Dozier put down a sacrifice bunt, but when Chicago catcher A.J. Pierzynski threw the ball into right field, it put runners at second and third with nobody out. Carroll followed with his sacrifice fly to right.

Carroll said the night was defined by the defense, particularly Span's, hailing the catch against Rios as the best in the big leagues this season. "Any time something like that happens ... it definitely fires you up," Carroll said. "It was fun to see."

Any doubt surrounding Span's value leading up to today's 3 p.m. trade deadline was nixed. He lifted the fans to their feet twice with his defense and twice with his bat. The impressive effort was admittedly fueled by the possibility that it might be Span's last game in a Twins uniform.

Initially, he said, there were no intentions to extra-impress, but if he was going to go, he wanted to "go out in style."

"It's definitely been on my mind," Span said. "I think I've been putting pressure on myself since the All-Star break. Tonight, it just felt good to be loose and play the game I love so much."

Cole De Vries was in need of the support behind him. The rookie righthander was facing the White Sox for the second time in a week and the third time in his brief major league career.

"It's awesome, especially when you're not pitching as well as you can," De Vries said of the defense. "Those are the situations you count on. That really helped me get as far as I did."

Chicago's familiarity was immediately evident in Monday's series opener. De Vries gave up three first-inning singles before A.J. Pierzynski hit a three-run homer for an early 4-0 lead.

The Twins helped limit the damage, scoring four runs of their own in the bottom half of the first. They started the inning with four consecutive hits off Jose Quintana, and all four batters came around to score. They scored two more runs in the third to go up 6-4.

Meanwhile, De Vries found a way to survive. Without the same command that got him through six innings in Chicago last week, he left after five innings Monday with a one-run lead.

De Vries hasn't won since a spot start June 30. Since his latest return from Class AAA Rochester, he is 0-1 in five starts, but he hasn't received much support from the bullpen. In his four no-decisions, he left the game with the lead.

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