AP

Kirilloff hits 2 homers as Twins pound White Sox 8-2

Jul 5, 2022, 8:58 AM | Updated: Jul 6, 2022, 3:15 am

Minnesota Twins' Max Kepler celebrates with teammates in the dugout after hitting a solo home run d...

Minnesota Twins' Max Kepler celebrates with teammates in the dugout after hitting a solo home run during the third inning of the team's baseball game against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, July 5, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

(AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

CHICAGO (AP) — The Minnesota Twins were well on their way by the time Alex Kirilloff started knocking the ball over the wall. He just helped put the game away.

Kirilloff hit two of Minnesota’s five homers, Jorge Polanco went deep on his birthday for the second time, and the Twins beat the Chicago White Sox 8-2 on Tuesday night.

Kirilloff went back to back with Polanco against slumping White Sox starter Michael Kopech in a three-run fifth, and then hit a two-run drive against Vince Velasquez in the seventh. The lefty-swinging Kirilloff drove the ball the opposite way both times in his second career multihomer game.

“He’s a hitter first,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He’s not a guy that’s just going up there trying to pull the ball and hit it in the seats. But when you stay on the ball and you stay through the ball the way that he does very naturally, he has a chance to still hit it in the seats — but the left-field seats. He can drive the ball that way very, very well.”

Max Kepler and Jose Miranda also connected, and the AL Central-leading Twins finished one homer shy of their season high.

Josh Winder pitched five solid innings on short notice after Chris Archer went on the 15-day injured list because of tightness in his left hip, and Minnesota improved to 5-0 against the reigning division champions.

The game was delayed 35 minutes in the bottom of the eighth because of rain. By then, the Twins were in control.

GOING DEEP

Kepler got things started in the third with a solo drive to the right-field bullpen. He also singled and scored on Polanco’s two-run shot in the fifth.

Miranda made it 3-0 in the fourth with a two-run drive to left following a leadoff single by Kirilloff.

The Twins broke it open in the fifth and chased Kopech, with Polanco and Kirilloff delivering the big blows.

Polanco, who turned 29, smacked a two-run drive to right after Kepler singled. He also homered on his 26th birthday, going deep in a romp over Texas in 2019.

Kirilloff followed with a drive to left-center against Kopech, making it 6-1. His shot to left in the seventh gave him his first multihomer game since he hit two in a win over Kansas City on April 30, 2021.

“I’m still just trying to flush it and take the same approach and routine and keep things simple for tomorrow,” Kirilloff said.

Winder (4-2), recalled from Triple-A St. Paul, gave up two runs and seven hits in his fifth start and ninth appearance for the Twins.

KOPECH STRUGGLES

Kopech (2-6) allowed just just five home runs in his first 14 starts and none in his first seven outings at home. But things sure were different for him this time.

He got tagged for six runs and eight hits — both season highs — over 4 2/3 innings in losing his fourth straight start. His ERA has climbed from 1.92 to 3.34.

The four home runs he allowed matched his career high during a lopsided loss to Detroit on Sept. 5, 2018, in his fourth major league appearance.

“It’s not a good day but unfortunately that’s how baseball goes sometimes,” he said. “Made some bad pitches over the heart of the plate and they hit them hard. I’ve just got to be better than that. That’s something that’s easy to fix from start to start, it’s just executing pitches better.”

TOSSED

White Sox outfielder AJ Pollock was ejected in the ninth for arguing a called third strike.

TRAINER’S ROOM

White Sox: OF Eloy Jiménez (hamstring tear) could be activated from the injured list as soon as Wednesday, manager Tony La Russa said. He has been cleared to play the field, though the White Sox probably will avoid having him do it three days in a row at least for now. Jiménez has been sidelined since April 23, when he was hurt stretching for first base as he tried to run out a ground ball at Minnesota. … C Yasmani Grandal (back spasms) is scheduled to start a minor league rehab assignment on Wednesday and likely will return after the All-Star break, La Russa said.

UP NEXT

The three-game series wraps up, with RHP Joe Ryan (6-3, 3.00 ERA) starting for Minnesota and RHP Lance Lynn (1-1, 4.50 ERA) getting the ball for Chicago. Ryan has a 4.37 ERA in four starts since returning from the COVID-19-related IL. Lynn threw six scoreless innings in Chicago’s 1-0 win at San Francisco on Friday, though he did not figure in the decision.

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Kirilloff hits 2 homers as Twins pound White Sox 8-2