MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Even after 13 years in the major leagues, Joe Mauer found a new way to win a ballgame.
Mauer drew a pinch-hit, bases-loaded walk with one out in the bottom of the 12th inning to give the Minnesota Twins a 2-1 win over the Chicago White Sox on Friday night.
It was his first career game-ending walk and only the second time he’d won a game in his final plate appearance.
“You don’t get that opportunity a whole lot, or I haven’t, I guess, over my career,” Mauer said. “Those are fun situations to be in and obviously when you come through like tonight that’s even better.”
Dan Jennings (4-3) hit Eddie Rosario with a full-count pitch to lead off the 12th. One out later Byron Buxton walked. Reliever Tommy Kahnle then came on and walked Brian Dozier and Mauer to push across the winning run.
Mauer was hitting for Robbie Grossman, who leads Twins regulars in on-base percentage. But the decision was a no-brainer according to Twins manager Paul Molitor.
“I went with the resume,” he said. “Nothing magical about that.”
Trevor May (2-2) was the last of four Twins relievers to pitch a scoreless inning, backing up the strong performance of starter Ricky Nolasco. The right-hander, who has been subject of trade talks, cruised through a season-high eight innings, allowing just one run and three hits with one walk and six strikeouts.
Adam Eaton put the White Sox on the board early when he led off the game with a long home run to right-center field. After that, however, only one White Sox runner reached second base against Nolasco.
“It just seemed like we were chasing stuff all night,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.
Chicago starter Jose Quintana matched Nolasco all night, allowing one run on seven hits with one walk and nine strikeouts. Buxton’s two-out double in the seventh inning ended his night after 112 pitches, but Matt Albers came on to retire Dozier and strand Buxton.
“Nolasco was throwing a good game, and when you saw that, it was trying to keep it close,” said Quintana, who has earned no-decisions in quality starts his last two times out.
When Eaton led off the game with a home run it marked the 12th time the Twins have given up a home run to the first batter of the game. That ties the 2004 Los Angeles Dodgers’ record for the most leadoff home runs allowed in a season. It was also the fifth time a Twins opponent has gone deep to start a game in the last 10 days.
Justin Morneau was a visiting player for the first time in the city he called home for a decade. The Twins traded their former first baseman and 2006 AL MVP late in the 2013 season. After stints with Pittsburgh and Colorado, Morneau signed with the White Sox in June. Since the trade he had only been back to Target Field for the 2014 Home Run Derby. He batted fifth as the designated hitter for the White Sox on Friday.
White Sox: 3B Todd Frazier (flu) was scratched from the starting lineup. … Manager Robin Ventura said there’s “a good chance” that LHP Carlos Rodon (wrist) would return to the rotation on Sunday against the Twins.
Twins: 3B Trevor Plouffe (rib) is expected to begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Rochester on Monday.
White Sox RHP Miguel Gonzalez (2-5) has a streak of five straight quality starts in July. On Saturday night he’ll face Twins LHP Tommy Milone (3-3), who had won three straight starts before the Red Sox pounded him for three home runs and 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings on July 24.
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