Vargas powers Twins past White Sox with monster home run
MINNEAPOLIS — Miguel Sano has taken to calling Kennys Vargas “Lil’ Big Papi,” a nod to retired Dominican slugger David Ortiz.
Vargas certainly looked the part on Tuesday night, albeit from the right side of the plate.
Vargas hit a 483-foot drive and Sano added another long homer to help the Minnesota Twins bounce back from a demoralizing sweep by beating the Chicago White Sox 9-7 on Tuesday night.
When he got to the dugout, “they tell me I’m a monster,” Vargas said with a laugh.
The homers helped the Twins overcome a rough outing from Ervin Santana (9-4), who gave up six runs on 10 hits and struck out six in five innings. Brandon Kintzler pitched the ninth for his 18th save in 21 tries.
Jose Abreu went 4 for 5 with a home run and two doubles for the White Sox, and Avisail Garcia had a homer and two RBIs. He leads the American League with a .339 batting average.
Derek Holland (5-7) allowed seven runs and nine hits in 2 2/3 innings for Chicago.
“It was a pretty embarrassing performance. I’m really upset about the whole thing, because I had the stuff coming out of the `pen,” Holland said. “To go out to the game and let it slip up like that is just unacceptable.”
The Twins won for just the 15th time in 39 games at Target Field, tied with the White Sox for fewest home wins in the American League. This one was much-needed after Cleveland took four straight at Target Field to sweep the Twins out of first place in the AL Central last weekend.
Sano got things started for the Twins with a two-run shot in the first inning, and Vargas’ drive landed in the second deck in left-center to highlight a five-run third that put Minnesota up 7-4. Only Yankees rookie Aaron Judge (495 feet) and Milwaukee’s Keon Broxton (489 feet) have hit longer home runs this season, according to MLB’s Statcast.
The White Sox pulled to 8-7 on Abreu’s solo homer in the sixth, but Garcia made two errors in right field in the eighth to give the Twins a little cushion.
Twins LHP Hector Santiago will make a rehab start for Triple-A Rochester on Wednesday. He is scheduled to throw four innings or 60 pitches.
The White Sox left 14 runners on base, including the bases loaded in the sixth inning and two in the seventh and eighth.
“The more chances we give ourselves, the greater the chance is in the long haul that we’re going to drive those guys in,” manager Rick Renteria said. “I think falling behind the way we did a little bit later on and still battling back and giving us an opportunity, I’ll take it.”
Phil Hughes appears headed back to a relief role for the time being.
Hughes is scheduled to join Rochester on Wednesday and pitch one inning of relief as the Twins look for ways to utilize him without taxing his arm. He has been on the disabled list with biceps inflammation since May 22.
Hughes pitched out of the bullpen early in his career with the New York Yankees, making 44 appearances in 2009, but hasn’t done it extensively since 2011. Twins manager Paul Molitor said moving Hughes to the bullpen is the only remedy they see that could work right now.
“As far as long term how we are going to get him stretched out, that’s still a question for us,” Molitor said. “In the short term, he has a chance to help us in shorter stints.”
GEE ON BOARD
The pitching-starved Twins reached a verbal agreement with right-hander Dillon Gee on a minor league deal.
The 31-year-old Gee chose free agency after being outrighted by Texas last weekend. He had a 4.15 ERA in 13 innings for the Rangers this season. He was coming off thoracic outlet syndrome and will report to Rochester.
White Sox: LHP David Holmberg (1-0, 2.63 ERA) pitches the second game of the series. He is 1-0 with a 3.71 ERA in four starts this season.
Twins: RHP Jose Berrios (6-1, 2.74) gets the ball. The 22-year-old Berrios has gone at least six innings in five of his seven starts and is coming off of a career-high eight innings in a win over Seattle last week.