CHICAGO (AP) — Minnesota Twins manager Paul Molitor hoped he could get three games out of 40-year-old Torii Hunter this weekend against the Chicago White Sox.
He got the most important one Sunday. Hunter battled with White Sox starter Chris Sale, fouling off five pitches before hitting a three-run home run in the first inning. He later added an RBI single as the Twins beat the Sox 7-0.
Kyle Gibson won for the third time in four starts against Chicago as Minnesota beat Sale, who had another bad start against the Twins.
Gibson (10-10) gave up five hits in 7 2-3 innings, struck out seven and walked one, and Casey Fien and Michael Tonkin followed with hitless relief.
Sale (12-9) lasted three innings and dropped to 1-4 with a 7.36 ERA in six starts against the Twins this year. He allowed six runs and nine hits and struck out three, raising his AL-leading total to 250.
Hunter said Molitor should want him in the lineup as the Twins battle for a playoff spot. Minnesota began the day one game behind Texas for the AL’s second wild-card spot.
“I’ve been in this position before,” Hunter said. “I know what it takes.”
Hunter homered in a four-run first for the Twins after Aaron Hicks singled on Sale’s first pitch and scored on Miguel Sano’s single.
Minnesota made it 6-0 in the third with four straight singles, getting RBIs from Hunter and Eddie Rosario. Joe Mauer added a run-scoring single in the sixth against Frankie Montas.
Hunter’s home run was his 19th this year and the 350th of his career.
“Sale is probably the best lefty in the game,” Hunter said.
“I battled that at-bat and just tried to stay short and really just tried to get a base hit,” Hunter said. “It’s that old saying, ‘Do less to get more.’ I was not trying to hit a homer right there.”
Sale said Hunter doesn’t seem to him like a player nearing the end of his career.
“It seems like he’s getting younger,” Sale said. “He’s not an easy out by any means.”
Molitor said because of the pitching matchups this weekend he hoped Hunter would be able to play all three games against Chicago.
As the playoff push goes forward, Molitor said he’ll be looking for as many chances as possible to play the 19-year veteran.
“I like his experience,” Molitor said. “You’ve still got to be somewhat intelligent about it, but he responded today.”
TWINS HAVE SOX NUMBER
Minnesota improved to 13-6 against Chicago this season with four shutouts. Chicago has been outscored 92-50 over its past 16 games against the Twins.
Twins: OF Shane Robinson missed the series to spend time with his wife and infant daughter, who was born with a condition in which the esophagus is not connected normally to the stomach. Twins manager Paul Molitor hoped Robinson would be able to return on Monday.
White Sox: RF Avisail Garcia and C Rob Brantly are day to day. Garcia left Saturday’s game after two innings due to back spasms. Brantly has a nagging knee issue, manager Robin Ventura said.
Twins: Minnesota’s Tyler Duffey (2-1, 4.18) starts Monday against Detroit and Kyle Lobstein (3-7, 5.31).
White Sox: Chicago’s John Danks (7-12, 4.60) is scheduled to start Monday night against Oakland and Sonny Gray (13-7, 2.28). Danks is 7-3 against Oakland.
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