MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Byron Buxton halted an 0-for-26 skid by homering in his first two at-bats, and Alex Kirilloff and Ryan Jeffers also took Lance Lynn deep for the Minnesota Twins in a 9-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Friday night.
Buxton hit a first-pitch fastball from Lynn into the bullpen in left-center to cap a five-run first inning that Kirilloff sparked with a two-run shot. Buxton, whose batting average fell below .200 last week during his third hitless streak of at least 20 at-bats this year, led off the fourth with a drive into the left-field bleachers off a 2-2 slider for his 17th homer of the season.
Twins starter Joe Ryan (9-6) gave up a home run by Andrew Benitendi on his first pitch and outlasted a two-run shot by Yasmani Grandal in the sixth to finish that inning and notch his second win in his last 10 turns.
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The Twins, who are 41-12 when scoring four or more runs, kept their two-game lead on Cleveland in the AL Central after scratching two starters from the original lineup because of pinkeye.
The Twins (51-48) have been in first place in the weak division for 104 of 114 days this season despite barely staying above the break-even mark.
Kirilloff added a two-run, two-out double in the seventh inning to send Lynn (6-9) to the dugout. The burly right-hander had his ERA rise to 6.18 despite three of the nine runs he allowed being unearned. Right fielder Zach Remillard dropped a fly ball and second baseman Elvis Andrus dropped a relay throw to exacerbate the damage against Lynn, one of several highly paid underperformers for the White Sox (41-58).
Lynn’s first-inning ERA, the worst in the major leagues, spiked to 10.80. The four homers surrendered matched his career high, adding to his MLB-most 28 allowed this season.
White Sox News
Buxton let out some steam on his trip around the bases in the first inning, smacking himself on the chest as he yelled encouragement toward his teammates in the dugout and pumping his right arm at the relievers in the bullpen while rounding second in his signature celebratory ode to his truck-driving father.
This was his 10th career multi-homer game. The first home run was his second-hardest hit ball of the season, at 114.3 mph according to MLB’s Statcast data.
Buxton batted sixth, his lowest spot in the order since April 1, 2021.
White Sox: 1B Andrew Vaughn was out for the third straight game with a bone bruise in his left foot after fouling a ball off it on Tuesday.
Twins: 3B Royce Lewis, who’s three weeks into an expected six-week rehabilitation for a strained left oblique muscle, has been hitting and playing catch daily while trying to restrain himself from pushing too hard. “I don’t want to get hurt again and have to miss the whole year,” he said.
White Sox: RHP Dylan Cease (4-3, 4.18 ERA) pitches on Saturday night. He won his last start after eight consecutive no-decisions and has 69 strikeouts in his last 49 innings.
Twins: RHP Sonny Gray (4-4, 3.16 ERA) takes the mound for the middle game of the series. The All-Star is winless with a 4.35 ERA over his last 13 turns. The Twins went 3-10 in those games.