Giolito leads White Sox past Twins 2-1

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Chicago White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito throws against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, May 19, 2021, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Chicago White Sox have been carefully built into a World Series contender over the last few years, and they’re playing this season like they believe it.

Lucas Giolito gave up two hits over eight innings with a season-high 11 strikeouts, guiding the White Sox over the Minnesota Twins 2-1 on Wednesday.

“I really love the way that we’re going about our business on a daily basis,” Giolito said. “Our next step is having that expectation to win every single day, having that supreme confidence in ourselves as a unit, and I feel like we’re there right now.”

After ending an 11-year absence from the postseason in 2020, the White Sox haven’t broken stride. With their 20th win in their last 28 games, they matched San Francisco for the major leagues’ best record.

“Last year we got that little taste, and now we want the whole thing,” Giolito said.

Giolito (3-4) threw 111 pitches in his longest start of the year, another stride forward after a rough first month. The third-inning fastball that Nelson Cruz hit to center for his 10th home run accounted for Minnesota’s only runner past second base. Cruz also singled in the first.

“He’s a really good pitcher,” Cruz said. “He always has that really good changeup that keeps hitters off-balance.”

Giolito faced the minimum batters from the fourth inning on.

“He just did everything that our team needed, and we can’t give him enough credit,” manager Tony La Russa said. “What you saw today was a combination of his talent and his guts.”

Liam Hendricks pitched a perfect ninth for his ninth save in 11 chances, celebrating a game-ending strikeout of Max Kepler with a shout and an exaggerated arm pump. The White Sox are 14-2 after losses this year.

“The most exciting part about this club is the character,” La Russa said.

Before the season began, the fast-rising White Sox looked like the stiffest competition for the two-time defending division champion Twins in the AL Central. One quarter of the way through the season, the White Sox are running away from the field and the Twins are flailing to avoid last place. The White Sox just finished a 13-game stretch against the Twins and Kansas City Royals at 10-3.

Leury García hit a leadoff double against Matt Shoemaker (2-5) in the fifth inning and scored the tying run on an infield single by Adam Eaton. Then García gave the White Sox the lead with an RBI single in the sixth, zapping whatever spark the Twins were seeking from their 5-4 comeback win on Tuesday. Shoemaker finished six innings for the third time this season, one sign of encouragement for a Twins team that has lost 11 of its last 14.

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