Hector Santiago stretched four times, played catch in the batting cage behind the Twins dugout and even threw a couple of balls off the wall.
“You try to stay loose,” the lefthander said. “You try to stay sharp mentally and remember who’s coming up and what you want to do.”
Santiago had to kill time in the third inning Saturday night while the Twins offense batted for more than 30 minutes. It was worth the wait, as he was provided what proved to be an insurmountable lead. And he went six solid innings as the Twins hammered the White Sox 11-3 and gave Santiago his first victory with his new team. The Twins had seven extra-base hits, including four home runs.
Santiago (11-8) was 0-4 in his first five starts for the Twins since being dealt from the Angels on Aug. 1.
Chicago’s Adam Eaton and the Twins’ Brian Dozier traded leadoff homers in the first — the fourth time both leadoff hitters have homered in the majors this season. After the White Sox scored again in the second, Byron Buxton hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning off James Shields, a shot to left-center that went an estimated 439 feet.
Then onslaught occurred in the third, during which the Twins sent 13 batters to the plate and scored eight runs, a season high for an inning. The inning included a two-run homer by Miguel Sano off Shields, a throwing error by Chicago third baseman Todd Frazier that led to six unearned runs for reliever Jacob Turner and a three-run homer by Trevor Plouffe.
“We put some runs up,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “And Hector overcame a little bit of a shaky start.”
The big inning put Santiago on cruise control. He posted scoreless innings in the fourth and fifth before Melky Cabrera got him for a home run in the sixth. In six innings, Santiago gave up three runs on four hits and three walks with six strikeouts. He pitched at least six innings for the second consecutive start and improved to 3-0 vs. the White Sox this season.
And he said he had no problems waiting through the long third inning.
“As soon as I came in after those three outs [in the fourth] I said, ‘Hey, score eight more,’ ” Santiago said. “Let’s keep it coming.”
Catcher John Ryan Murphy batted .075 in 11 games with the Twins before being sent down to Class AAA Rochester in May. He ended up batting .236 with three home runs and 39 RBI in 83 games with the Red Wings.
Murphy did bat .323 over his last 19 games there, so he’s coming back to the Twins hot. He was recalled Saturday.
“He had a good finish to the season,” Molitor said. “and hopefully some of that confidence emerges up here.”
The Twins could use it. They traded Aaron Hicks to the Yankees during the offseason, thinking that Murphy could spell Kurt Suzuki and hopefully be ready for a bigger role in 2017.
Molitor said he plans to mix Murphy, Suzuki and Juan Centeno behind the plate the rest of the season.
On the mend
Injured pitchers Tommy Milone (biceps) and Trevor May (back) both threw in the bullpen with no problems. The plan is to have them throw in a simulated game Tuesday. They could be activated from the disabled list after that.