Chicago White Sox’s Eloy Jimenez rounds first after hitting a two-run home run off Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Jorge Lopez during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday, May 2, 2023, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
CHICAGO — Andrew Benintendi started his night by robbing Carlos Correa of a first-inning home run, leaping up and corralling the baseball in his outstretched glove. He ended it by robbing the Twins of a potential win, his 10th-inning single off Caleb Thielbar instead sending the White Sox to a 3-2 walk-off victory on Tuesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.
In between Benintendi’s early and late heroics, there was a pitchers duel between Joe Ryan and White Sox starter Michael Kopech in the early innings and a back-and-forth between the two bullpens in the action-packed late innings.
The one constant?
Not enough offense from the Twins (17-13), who finished the day with just three hits. Thanks in part to Benintendi’s catch, the Twins did not manage a hit off Kopech for the first five innings. His no-hit bid was snapped in the sixth when he allowed a single up the middle to Byron Buxton.
Buxton would go on to score the Twins’ first run of the game after Kopech walked the next two batters on eight straight pitches and Trevor Larnach delivered a bases-loaded sacrifice fly. But the Twins could do little else against Kopech, who relied heavily on his four-seam fastball, which the Twins spent the night swinging through.
“He uses it well up in the zone. It’s got good life on the pitch and good carry,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He executed in this outing better than probably some of the previous outings that he has had previously. And when he’s executing, he’s really tough.”
But for as good as Kopech was for the White Sox (9-21), Ryan might have been even better. The Twins’ starter, who has been tough all season, turned in perhaps his best performance to date, tossing six scoreless innings and allowing just one hit, lowering his earned-run average to 2.37.
Ryan’s night came to a close after six sharp innings. He had retired 12 of the last 13 batters he had faced and was at just 87 pitches, but Baldelli cited a velocity dip in his last inning of work as part of the reason to turn to the bullpen.
“The bullpen has been stellar,” Ryan said. “Jorge López has been great. … It’s a good call to go to him there.”
But it didn’t quite work out as planned.
López was met immediately by Andrew Vaughn, who singled to start the seventh. Eloy Jiménez took the next pitch out, quickly turning the Twins’ slim lead into a deficit.
“It doesn’t matter if I had a perfect month coming into May, doesn’t affect — I’m still human, I’m going to give up some runs at some point,” López said. “You don’t expect that, but that one was like one inch off the plate. You don’t expect that swing.”
Even still, the Twins got a jolt the half inning immediately after when Nick Gordon came off the bench and sent his first home run of the season deep into the Chicago sky. The reliever who gave up the blast? One whom the Twins fans remember watching give up late leads in Minnesota, as well: Alexander Colomé.
But after reliever Brock Stewart skirted through trouble in the ninth inning — he walked the bases loaded, one intentional — the Twins were unable to scrape together anything else against the White Sox bullpen, leaving their automatic runner, Joey Gallo, on third base to end the top of the 10th.
“Once you hit extra innings, you don’t know necessarily what’s going to happen,” Baldelli said. “It takes just one good swing putting the ball in play like that and we lose. We’ve got to score more. I mean, there’s no way around that. It’s going to be hard to win a game like this, not hitting too many balls on the barrel.”