Welcome to the American League Central, where the Twins entered a campus of chaos Monday and exited with a 6-2 victory over the White Sox to take the first of a three-game series against their biggest rival.
And they did it by manipulating an announced sellout crowd of
38,362 at U.S. Cellular Field in different ways.
Righthander Brad Radke quieted them - and the White Sox bats - by giving up only one run on three hits over seven innings.
Backup catcher Henry Blanco surprised them with rare power, socking a two-run homer in the fourth to give the Twins a 4-1 lead.
Then Torii Hunter got them screaming late, turning into Ray Lewis in the eighth inning as he blitzed White Sox catcher Jamie Burke, knocking him down before the ball arrived from the outfield to score a late run on a sacrifice fly. Burke had to go to a local hospital afterward when he complained of headaches and not being able to focus.
"This is what the second half is all about," Blanco said. "You either get in the playoffs or you get out. If we play like we
played all year long. I think we'll get in."
"That was a message," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Whether it was dirty or not, I can't tell because I haven't seen the replay. But I know if that had happened for my side, I'd be high-fiving my players. If they don't like it, that's a message. That's the way I learned how to play the game. That's the way I want them to play the game."
Hunter was booed by fans after his play and jawed with a couple fans while standing in the on-deck circle in the ninth, leading to one fan being taken out of the park by security.
"Someone started talking about taking my life," Hunter said. "Don't be scared. I was hoping he would come on the field so I could whup his butt. That's a free butt-whupping."
So yeah, the Sox are 6 games back right now. But these next few games could still be a lot of fun.