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White Sox take doubleheader opener from Twins, 3-1

From Minnesota’s perspective, this game should have been over in the first inning, and maybe if Byron Buxton didn’t have the top of the doubleheader off it would have been. Instead, after loading the bases on two walks and a Carlos Correa single, Erick Fedde went short fly ball from the hot-hitting Jose Miranda, strikeout on bad pitches by the usually discerning Carlos Santana, and fielder’s choice to escape unharmed. Well, unharmed except for needing 35 pitches, that is.

Fedde was back to his usual self after that, yielding just three more singles, but the long inning meant he only lasted through the fifth, which left four innings for the usually-inept bullpen.

Meanwhile, the White Sox only managed four hits, but cleverly squeezed them into two innings, having gone 12 straight outs after a leadoff walk. In the fifth, though, Gavin Sheets hit a good pitch from Bailey Ober for a double and Eloy Jiménez hit an equally good pitch for a single through the hole to right, setting up a run on a Paul DeJong sacrifice fly (DeJong was playing third for the first time ever, but no harm done because all he got were foul popups).

Then in the sixth Ober, who’s usually at his best third time through the order, got two outs but then basically set pitches on tees for Andrew Vaughn and Luis Robert Jr., the first leading to a ground-rule double and the next to 412 feet of aviation.

That was all the offense the Sox needed. Four relievers mowed through the Twins, with the exception of Jordan Leasure giving up a solo homer to Matt Wallner (maybe Leasure shouldn’t pitch to Wallner, who also went deep on him Monday).

The biggest surprise of the day, though, was at the end. Sox fans no doubt let out a collective groan as Michael Kopech took the mound for his usual blown save, only to have him produce an immaculate inning — nine pitches, three strikeouts. Sure, it was toward the bottom of the Twins lineup and they helped with some checked swings just over the imaginary line, but, hey, immaculate is immaculate, and there have only been 114 ever in MLB before this one.

Game number one goes to the Sox, game number two coming right up.

Kopech’s nice inning may have restored some of his fading trade value, and Robert’s blast may have enhanced his. Tommy Pham probably took a small step backward with an 0-for-3 with a K and a walk. DeJong may have rested in place with the sac fly and a K among his 0-for-2, though he did manage to get through the game without an error, possibly aided by having no grounders hit to him.
Despite the super-long top of the first, the game ran barely longer than two hours.

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