MINNEAPOLIS — Understated as usual, Joe Mauer had downplayed his approaching milestone. But when the Target Field crowd rose to its feet to acknowledge the achievement, even the modest Mauer got a bit emotional.
The native Minnesotan got his 2,000th career hit at home on Thursday night, and just as importantly for Mauer, it came in a Twins victory.
Mauer had two hits and three RBIs, and Jose Berrios struck out 11 in seven innings for Minnesota in a 4-0 win against the Chicago White Sox.
“Leading up to it, I didn’t try to make a big deal of it, to be honest,” Mauer said. “When I got up there the at-bat before, the fans started to get into it. It put some more adrenaline in my system there. It was a special moment, especially coming off a tough lefty and driving in a couple runs, too.”
Mauer became the third Twins player (joining Rod Carew and Kirby Puckett), and the 12th active player, to reach 2,000 hits. He’s one of 287 players in history to reach the mark.
“You do the math of the percentage of players who are in that category versus the people who have had a chance to put the uniform on and it’s fairly low,” said Minnesota manager Paul Molitor, a member of the 3,000-hit club. “You start finding yourself in categories and rising into areas that few people get a chance to experience.”
Berrios (2-1) tied his career high for strikeouts and allowed just three hits for the second time in three starts this season. The right-hander is 4-1 with a 1.67 ERA in five starts against Chicago.
Lucas Giolito (0-2) pitched 6 1/3 innings for the White Sox, giving up four runs, three earned, and five hits with five walks. He struck out three.
Chicago has lost eight of its past 10 games.
“Weren’t able to get a whole lot going,” manager Rick Renteria said. “They’re not going to let us come in there and try to take a game. This is a big-boy game, and everybody’s got to do their job and compete and give themselves a chance to win a ballgame.”
Giolito was nearly matching Berrios for much of the game, but the control issues hurt and Twins outfielder Byron Buxton used his speed to create runs in the third inning.
Buxton singled and stole second base after a review showed Chicago shortstop Tim Anderson missed a tag. Buxton added another in the game and now has 28 straight successful stolen bases.
Buxton then took third on a short flyout to center field and scored on an infield grounder when Anderson’s throw was just wide of catcher Omar Narvaez.
“It wasn’t an easy play to score on, but his ability to anticipate the ball on the ground and to get a good jump, those are the kind of runs that few people can create the way he did there in getting around the bases,” Molitor said.
Mauer followed with an RBI single. He added a two-run single in the seventh for his milestone hit.
“It was a big moment late in the game and to put a couple runs up on the board made it even sweeter,” Mauer said.
Berrios dominated with his three-pitch mix, particularly keeping the White Sox off balance with his curveball. He struck out the side in the third and didn’t allow a Chicago batter to reach scoring position. He gave up three singles and hit one batter.
“You don’t want to downplay what Jose did,” Molitor said. “That was masterful, maybe one of his better outings even — he threw a shutout a couple starts ago — in terms of being in command of where you saw the baseball and using all his pitches.”
Berrios threw 20 first-pitch strikes to the 24 batters he faced and had 0-2 counts on 11 batters. His 11 strikeouts were his most since he had 11 against the White Sox on Aug. 30 last season, another outing with seven scoreless innings.
“Obviously when they keep missing it, I’m going to keep throwing it,” Berrios said of his curveball.
Chicago right-hander Chris Volstad gave up one hit and a walk in one inning after being promoted from Triple-A Charlotte.
Gregory Infante was optioned to Triple-A after Wednesday’s game. The team transferred left-hander Carlos Rodon (left biceps bursitis and left shoulder inflammation) to the 60-day disabled list to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Volstad.
White Sox: C Welington Castillo was out of the lineup for a second straight day with right knee soreness. He was injured Tuesday and is day to day.
Rain and snowy conditions are forecast for the Twin Cities, likely causing issues this weekend. White Sox RHP Reynaldo Lopez (0-1, 0.69 ERA) is scheduled to start Friday night. The Twins haven’t announced their starter, in part because of the weather. It will be the first turn in the rotation for a fifth starter, which could be Phil Hughes. But Minnesota is waiting on an announcement in case the game is postponed.