Everyone was wound up Tuesday about the Twins having to face Lucas Giolito for the second time in less than a week. No one bothered to ask the White Sox how they felt about facing Michael Pineda under the same circumstances.
Both won their game last week in Target Field. Both were effective in the rematch Tuesday. Pineda was just a tad better as the Twins held off the White Sox 3-1 in the first of a three-game series.
Marwin Gonzales and Jonathan Schoop each hit solo home runs, and Eddie Rosario, who missed the past three games because of a tight right hamstring, added an RBI single in the eighth.
Pineda, with a slider breaking as sharply as it has all season, held Chicago to one run over five innings on four hits and one walk with eight strikeouts. Pineda, once again was a strike-throwing machine as 60 of his 89 pitches were strikes, a nice 67.4 percentage. He was removed after five innings, which falls in line with recent outings since he’s come off the injured list.
“I know Giolito is a great pitcher, especially this year,” Pineda said, “but I’m not thinking about him. I’m thinking how I can pitch a good game and give an opportunity to my team to win. That’s what I try to do. I feel great for that, because we are winning.”
The Twins maintained their 3 1/2-game lead in the AL Central over Cleveland, which beat Detroit 10-1, with 31 games to play.
Pineda has a 3.09 ERA over his past 12 outings, tops on the staff during that time frame, His only blemish came in the fourth when he served up a home run to Tim Anderson that trimmed the Twins lead to 2-1.
Pineda had to bow his back later in that inning, getting Ryan Goins to ground out with runners on first and third to end the inning. In the fifth, Anderson batted with a man on first. Pineda threw a wild pitch that allowed Yolmer Sanchez to reach second, but Anderson struck out on one of Pineda’s nasty sliders to end the inning.
“I know he got my fastball, middle away, he got a homer,” Pineda said, “so in the fifth inning I’m thinking, ‘I need to get this guy out.’ And I used my off-[speed] pitches to get him out. And I got it, so I feel great for that.”
It was less than a week ago that Giolito dominated the Twins while guiding the White Sox to a 4-0 win at Target Field.
In that game he struck out 12 while limiting one of the top offenses in baseball to just three hits over nine innings.
Surely, the residue from that game was still on the Twins minds as they prepared to face him again on Tuesday.
The Twins made Giolito throw 20 pitches in the first inning, including a nine-pitch walk to Jorge Polanco.
That might have set the stage for the second inning, when the ace-in-training grooved a 1-2 fastball to Gonzales that was punished into the right field bleachers for the first run of the game. Giolito didn’t make a mistake like that last week at Target Field. Then Schoop got him three batters later, lasering a breaking ball out to left.
And the Twins were on their way to their ninth win in 14 games against Chicago this season.
After Pineda left, Sam Dyson, Tyler Duffey, Sergio Romo and Taylor Rogers each pitched a scoreless inning.
“Big Mike and our entire bullpen came up really big for us today,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “A lot of particular at bats were impressive in the way we went about our business. No one folded at any point just continued to go up there and get outs and it started with Mike.”