CHICAGO – That's the Hector Santiago the Twins remember. That's the Lance Lynn they have been expecting, sort of.
The combination turned a matchup between the departed and the disappointing into the Twins' first winning streak in more than three weeks. Lynn provided his first quality start with his new team, Santiago was roughed up by his old one, and the Twins beat the White Sox for the second night in a row, 8-3 Saturday at Guaranteed Rate Park.
"First time we've had a couple of wins back-to-back — I don't even know when the last time was, but it seems like forever," manager Paul Molitor said.
Close. It was a three-game winning streak April 10-12, more than three weeks ago. But Lynn and Eddie Rosario, who finished with four hits and five RBI, most by any Twins player this season, made sure it wouldn't be even longer.
Lynn, whose monthlong misadventures had become a growing concern, still experienced a couple of rough innings Saturday, giving up four hits in the first and three more, including a pair of doubles, in the fifth. But the veteran finally found an effective formula: Both times he induced double-play grounders that prevented those tense moments from detonating his start.
"I had some good luck with double-play balls and bad luck with choppers and jams. But that's baseball," said Lynn (1-3). "It feels like a monkey off my back, truthfully. There's work to do, but [I'm] happy to be out of the zero column, that's for sure."
In between those jams, Lynn was the fastball placement artist the Twins had assumed they were hiring when they signed him this spring. Only one other Chicago batter reached base, and Lynn immediately recorded three of his seven strikeouts to take control. He left after striking out the final two hitters he faced in the sixth inning, pulling more than a full run off his ERA, which declined from 8.37 to 7.28.
Molitor noted Lynn's strike-throwing: zero walks, after averaging nearly four per start in April, and 67 strikes among his 97 pitches. "We're looking for his command and control to get better," Molitor said. "It's going to be a big part of him getting back on track, and tonight was a good step in that direction."
Same for the offense, which scored eight runs on the road for the first time all year. No one did more damage than Rosario, who is hitting .458 when he bats fifth in the lineup and .213 when he's anywhere else. He beat out an infield hit in the first inning to bring home a run and crushed a Santiago changeup into the Twins bullpen for two more runs in the third. "I knew he was throwing me changeups," Rosario said of his former teammate. "Maybe I was waiting."
He wasn't waiting for what happened on his next at-bat, an inning later. Rosario fouled off a pitch from Chris Volstad, and it bounced off the ground — and into a sensitive area. Rosario crouched a few seconds, walked around the plate and finally jumped into the air, all while hearing laughter from his dugout.
"It hurt. It hurt, man," he said. "They think it's funny, but it's not."
Said Molitor: "I didn't want to go out. We just all know those moments happen. I was glad to see him get up and smile. And then he jumped about 4 feet off the ground and I knew we were good to go."
In fact, Rosario ripped into a curveball and knocked it off the center field wall. Whether running a little gingerly or thinking it was a home run, Rosario took his time getting to second, but with two more runners scoring ahead of him, he was feeling much better. In fact, everyone was.
"Everybody is feeling good. Yesterday, it was [Eduardo Escobar], today me, last week it was [Max] Kepler," Rosario said. "I don't know. I think it's a good hitting team."