After the Twins won three of four road games against the Houston Astros over the weekend, Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli hoped his team could carry that positive momentum into Monday night’s homestand opener vs. the Chicago White Sox.
However, it took about two innings and two Eloy Jimenez at-bats to put a quick end to Baldelli’s plans.
Jimenez hit two home runs, including a 454-footer off the facing of the restaurant above the batter’s eye in dead center field, and drove in five runs as Chicago jumped out to a 7-0 lead and cruised to an 11-1 victory.
It was the second straight game in which Jimenez homered twice and drove in five runs, making him the first player in club history to produce those stats in back-to-back games.
“See the ball and hit it,” Jimenez said afterward with a laugh when asked for his strategy.
Baldelli added, “He does make life difficult for opposing pitchers. He has a good approach, and we saw how dangerous he could be tonight. …
“Obviously a tough start to the game. We were behind the eight-ball very early and we were just kind of forced to battle from behind the whole way.”
To try to slow Jimenez and the American League West-leading White Sox, Baldelli will turn to the Air Force.
Twins right-hander Griffin Jax (2-1, 5.63 ERA), the first player from the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., to play in the major leagues, will start Tuesday. He will be opposed by White Sox left-hander Dallas Keuchel (7-5, 4.44).
It will be just the ninth major league appearance and fifth start for Jax, who is among a handful of Twins auditioning for a starting job in 2022. He started against the White Sox in the first game of a doubleheader on July 19 in Chicago and allowed just one run and one hit — a solo homer by Tim Anderson — over four innings in a game the Twins eventually won 3-2. He walked one and struck out six.
Jax garnered his second major league victory in his latest start, a 5-3 victory over the Astros on Thursday, when he allowed one run on three hits in 5 1/3 innings. Over his past three starts, he has allowed a total of three runs on six hits over 14 1/3 innings (1.88 ERA) with eight strikeouts and four walks.
“I understand the opportunity that’s in front of me,” Jax said. “I’m excited for the opportunity, and I’m looking forward to just being able to keep working every single day and get under that schedule of a true five-man rotation, and work towards that and hopefully just keep helping build my confidence and my mentality every single time.”
Jax will be going against a Chicago squad that matched its season high by going 21 games over .500 with Monday’s win and is clicking on all cylinders, especially against Minnesota. The White Sox improved to 13-4 against the Twins this season and have won four in a row overall following an impressive three-game sweep of the Cubs at Wrigley Field over the weekend.
Keuchel is coming off a tough-luck loss, when he gave up two runs on three hits in six innings Thursday against the Kansas City Royals.
He is 6-3 with a 3.88 ERA in 11 career games (10 starts) against the Twins, including 2-2 with a 2.66 ERA in five games (four starts) at Target Field.
–Field Level Media