CHICAGO — Kyle Gibson knows his poor season has him in a precarious position with the Minnesota Twins.
Starts like Tuesday night could make him a surprise piece in a playoff push.
Gibson escaped early trouble for his best start of the season, Jorge Polanco homered for the third time in two days and the Twins beat the Chicago White Sox 4-1.
Gibson (7-10) struck out a season-high eight over seven innings, allowing one run. He entered the game with a 6.05 ERA and uncertainty about his spot in the rotation.
“Whenever you can go through a lineup and feel like you’re in control most of the game, I feel like, to me, that’s what confidence is,” Gibson said. “If you have an idea in your head that it’s going to work before you even throw the pitch. There were a lot of pitches tonight where I had that feeling again. I don’t know how many times this year that I’ve had that feeling consistently in a game.
“If you want to call that a turning point, then I hope it is.”
A trip to the Windy City helped, as Gibson is 6-2 against the White Sox in his career, his most wins against any opponent. He has a 2.26 ERA in those games.
Gibson stranded the bases loaded in the second and third innings, getting three straight swinging strikeouts in the third after three White Sox reached with no outs.
“I’m really happy for him. I’m not sure I can imagine some of the things swirling around his head heading into this start,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “I think the story was Kyle and his ability to go deep.”
Polanco led off the fourth inning with his sixth homer of the season after going deep in both ends of a doubleheader Monday.
Kennys Vargas and Eddie Rosario added home runs against rookie Lucas Giolito (0-1) in his White Sox debut. The Twins remained in playoff position with their sixth win in seven games.
Giolito, who came to Chicago from the Washington Nationals in an offseason trade for Adam Eaton, allowed six hits and four runs, striking out four.
“A few mistakes got me tonight, trying to go in with the heater and leaving it over middle,” Giolito said. “Guys up there are going to hit mistakes, and that’s kind of what happened. I feel like I belong. I feel my stuff plays.”
White Sox manager Rick Renteria said Giolito’s outing was excellent. “It was a very positive outing,” Renteria said. “Lucas threw the ball very, very well.”
Rookie Yoan Moncada hustled for a double on a slow ground ball through the infield in the first inning, moved to third base on a fly ball from Jose Abreu and then scored on a wild pitch to open the scoring.
Minnesota entered with a half-game lead for the second AL wild card and is attempting to hold off a pack that includes the Los Angeles Angels, Seattle, Kansas City and Texas, who all entered Tuesday within two games of the Twins.
Trevor Hildenberger retired all three batters in the eighth and Matt Belisle closed his fourth save.
Byron Buxton went 0 for 4 to end his 12-game hitting streak. He was tied for the AL lead with Seattle’s Nelson Cruz, who extended his streak to 13 on Tuesday.
Chicago’s Nicky Delmonico walked in the third inning. The rookie has reached base in 19 of his 20 major league games and has hit six home runs in that span.
Twins: LHP Hector Santiago (upper back pain) is scheduled for a bullpen session Wednesday with LHP Adalberto Mejia (strained left biceps) to follow on Thursday. Both are on the 10-day disabled list. . . . OF Max Kepler was held out with virus-like symptoms.
White Sox: INF Matt Davidson was sent to Triple-A Charlotte for a rehab assignment for his bruised right wrist. Renteria said Davidson will spend a few games with the Knights. Davidson has been on the 10-day disabled list since Aug. 4.
The five-game series continues Wednesday with a meeting of veteran right-handers Ervin Santana (13-7, 3.33 ERA) of Minnesota and James Shields (2-4, 5.72) of Chicago. The pair both pitched in 2013 with Kansas City.