MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Jose Abreu hit a two-run homer in the first inning of the second game of a doubleheader to spoil Zack Littell’s major league debut and help Chicago bounce back from a late lapse in the opener, and the White Sox beat the Twins 6-3 for a split on Tuesday.
In the first game, Eduardo Escobar hit a three-run homer with two outs in the eighth for the Twins in a 4-2 victory that ruined a stellar start by White Sox right-hander Reynaldo Lopez.
Abreu, who hit an RBI double in the opener, hit a first-pitch fastball from Littell (0-1) left over the middle of the plate onto the grass berm beyond center field. With an RBI single by Kevan Smith and an RBI double by Adam Engel, the White Sox staked starter Lucas Giolito (4-6) to a 4-0 lead. Giolito took advantage of the early cushion and completed six innings, and a two-run double by Yolmer Sanchez in the fourth provided further support.
Littell, added as the 26th player for the doubleheader, was acquired last July 30 from the New York Yankees in a trade for starting pitcher Jaime Garcia. The 22-year-old got nine outs, allowing six runs on six hits and four walks.
Escobar did his best to bring the Twins back again, with RBI doubles in the third and the eighth innings. The White Sox bullpen held this time, though. Luis Avilan struck out Max Kepler with men on second and third in the eighth, and Joakim Soria fanned Mitch Garver. Soria had runners at the corners in the ninth, but he finished his fifth save in seven opportunities.
Escobar went 5 for 8 with five RBIs in the doubleheader. Traded to the Twins in 2012 for starting pitcher Francisco Liriano, Escobar is batting .325 with nine doubles, four homers and 17 RBIs in his past 23 games against the White Sox.
Once again, the dogged and affable Venezuelan seemingly destined for a utility role has dug himself in the middle of the lineup as a valuable everyday player. He’s on pace for a 30-homer, 60-double season.
“I play hard, 100 percent every day no matter what team I’m facing,” Escobar said.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Tyler Duffey (1-1) pitched two scoreless innings for the victory in the opener, and Fernando Rodney pitched a perfect ninth for his 13th save in 16 attempts and 11th in a row. Twins starter Fernando Romero went six innings without a walk.
With a lift from Yoan Moncada’s leadoff home run, Lopez sailed through seven scoreless innings with only one hit allowed. He turned a 2-0 lead over to Nate Jones (2-2), who got two easy outs before Brian Dozier reached on an infield single that was bobbled by the third baseman Sanchez and preceded by a low throw that Abreu couldn’t scoop at first base.
Eddie Rosario walked. Miguel Sano’s single finally put the Twins on the scoreboard before Escobar’s 414-foot drive to straightaway center on a 1-2 pitch.
He pumped his arm and shouted in celebration as he rounded first base to put the Twins ahead and on track for their fourth straight win, before emerging from the dugout with a wide smile for a tip-of-the-helmet curtain call.
“Twins ball has always got something in the backpack,” Romero said. “We never give it up.”
Lopez walked four batters and struck out four, allowing only the fourth-inning double by Escobar. He left after 106 pitches, a strong bounce back from his previous turn when he allowed seven hits and eight runs at Cleveland in just 2 2/3 innings.
“It was a really nice outing. Win or lose, that’s something that I can’t control,” Lopez said through a translator. “I can just control the execution of my pitches and have command and control of my pitches. As a team, you always want to win. Losses are never easy to digest, but this is a game and you have to be ready for whatever the outcome is.”
GETTING CAUGHT UP
The first game was a makeup from April 15, when a weekend snowstorm finished smothering the Twin Cities and forced a third straight postponement. The others were rescheduled for Aug. 20 — a single game on what was originally a day off for the teams — and Sept. 28 as a day-night, dual-admission doubleheader. This one was a traditional twin bill, with only one ticket required and just a half-hour between games.
White Sox: LHP Carlos Rodon, who is still working his way back from offseason shoulder surgery, is expected to be reinstated from the DL this week to make his first start of the season. Because Lopez and Gioloto both pitched in the doubleheader, there’ll be an opening in the rotation this weekend at Boston.
Twins: RHP Ervin Santana, who had a setback with his middle finger rehabilitation last week in the minor leagues, visited with his surgeon on Monday that yielded no red flags. He’s scheduled to throw again on Thursday.
White Sox: LHP Hector Santiago (1-2, 5.10 ERA) pitches on Wednesday night against his former team. He made 25 starts for the Twins over the 2016 and 2017 seasons and posted a cumulative 5.61 ERA. He allowed eight runs on six hits and six walks in 3 1/3 innings against them in a turn on May 5.
Twins: RHP Jake Odorizzi (3-2, 4.14 ERA) takes the mound for the third game of the series. He’s coming off his worst start with his new team, with eight runs allowed on seven hits and two walks in 3 2/3 innings last week against Cleveland.
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